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Analyst: Sling TV Has Less Than 500K Subs

9 Dec, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Dish Networks’ Sling TV was the first Internet-based skinny channel bundle offering subscribers access to 20 popular pay-TV channels, including ESPN, for $20 a month.

Launched in February, the platform reportedly had less than 500,000 subscribers at the end of October, according to Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn, who cited third-party vendor sources.

“This number would align with some of the estimates that analysts have put out in the market, pegging Sling TV’s subscriber count at around 400,000,” Rayburn wrote in a Dec. 8 post.

Sling TV launched with aplomb, generating nearly 170,000 subs in the first two months. Yet, despite a sharp logo and Dish CEO Charlie Ergen’s blessing, Sling TV has been dulled due to frequent technological glitches during high-profile events such as college basketball’s “March Madness,” AMC’s premiere of “Fear the Walking Dead” and ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” among others.

Technical snafus, which include pixelated pictures, frozen screens and dropped coverage, are compounded by the fact multiple users in a home can only watch one channel at a time — without on-demand functionality.

The glitches have forced management's hand, with DownDetector.com, a website tracking pay-TV service interruptions, finding more than 550 Sling TV complaints during the Sept. 21 game between the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts.

"I'm sorry for the frustration this has caused you. This is a known issue that we're working on resolving,” responded @SlingAnwers

Indeed, Ergen in November admitted Sling TV was not without its challenges.

“One of the big obstacles is to perform technically to the level that we can on linear TV. We’re not quite there yet,” said the CEO.

Analyst Rayburn contends comparing Sling TV to cable TV is misguided considering the former’s limited content and tech problems, among other issues.

“If Sling TV is saying they have scaling problems with 200,000 streams at the same time, it’s only more evidence that [such] services … won’t make any sizeable dent in the cable TV business,” Rayburn wrote.

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