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Dish Unveils $20 Monthly OTT Video Service

5 Jan, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Satellite TV operator’s ‘Sling TV’ promises sports (ESPN) programming — a traditional bundled pay-TV anchor

Let the over-the-top video wars begin.

Dish Network Jan. 5 unveiled its long-awaited standalone OTT video service called “Sling Television” – albeit with a surprising $20 monthly fee instead of the anticipated $35 price tag. The service requires no commitment, contract, credit check or hardware installation.

Sling TV will feature 12 Nielsen-rated sports, lifestyle, family and news networks: ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN. This package additionally includes transactional VOD, electronic sellthrough, and short-form video from Maker Studios.

Dish, which made the announcement in advance of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Jan. 6-9, becomes the first major multichannel video program distributor to roll out a broadband video service separate of the bundled pay-TV subscription.

Programming will be available on demand and live – both with ads that cannot be deleted or fast-forwarded through. Currently, satellite subscribers using the Hopper DVR can delete (Auto-Hop) advertising on all recorded primetime programming.

“This service gives millions of consumers a new consideration for pay-TV; Sling TV fills a void for an underserved audience,” Dish CEO Joseph Clayton said in a statement.

ESPN, which is owned by The Walt Disney Co., is a coup Dish secured in 2014 when hammering out a new retransmission agreement with Disney. ESPN owns broadcast rights to most major college and professional sports, including World Cup soccer.

Dish will offer add-on packs for additional programming at $5 per month, including “Kids Extra” add-on with Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV, and a “News & Info Extra” add-on with HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV. A “Sports Extra” package is coming soon.

“Our offer will have the best of live cable and Internet video, some of which will be exclusive to our platform,” Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch said. “The arrival of Sling TV lets consumers, who’ve embraced services like Netflix and Hulu, take more control of their video entertainment experience.”

Dish’s OTT video service comes as similar services from Sony, HBO and Showtime are slated to launch in 2015.

Local, regional and national broadcast television is slated as well for Sling TV as agreements are signed, according to Dish.

Indeed, Dish remains embroiled in a carriage fee dispute with 21st Century Fox, which owns Fox News, among other broadcast properties. Undoubtedly, OTT rights are key to any renewal. The dispute has seen Fox News dropped from Dish’s 14 million subscribers until there is a resolution – which could be a while considering the stubbornness of Fox and Dish’s bosses, Rupert Murdoch and Charlie Ergen, respectively.

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