Sling TV Feature Integrates Over-the-Air Broadcast Channels Into Guide on LG Smart TVs

Sling TV announced a feature that integrates free, local over-the-air (OTA) broadcast channels into the Sling TV guide on 2020 LG Smart televisions with webOS 5.0, without the need to switch inputs or applications.

The channel tuning feature, available on all 2020 LG OLED and LG NanoCell TVs, allows consumers to access their local broadcast networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS, directly within the Sling TV app when connected to an OTA antenna.

“The best value in TV today is Sling TV plus free live locals,” Jon Lin, VP of product at Sling TV, said in a statement. “We’re making it easier than ever to watch free local channels directly within the Sling TV app, making 2020 LG Smart televisions an amazing value for those who appreciate a quality viewing experience, live local programming and OTT content from Sling TV.”

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To begin watching local broadcast networks in the Sling TV experience, owners of compatible LG Smart TVs connect an OTA antenna directly to their television and begin the one-time channel scanning process. To scan for channels, consumers access the TV’s settings tab, select “All Settings,” “Channels,” “Channel Tuning” and finally “Auto Tuning.”

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Once Sling TV receives the tuner’s signal, all available local channels will appear within the interface like any other channel. Consumers can further customize their Sling TV experience by filtering for local channels within the guide or adding local channels to “My Channels.”

For more information on the integration with LG Smart TVs, visit Sling.com/LG or the Sling TV Help Center for a step-by-step setup guide.

The average American household today can receive 44 local OTA channels at no cost, resulting in hundreds of dollars in annual savings, according to Sling TV. Cord cutters interested in learning which live locals are available in their area can now use the Sling TV local channel finder tool. To search, type in a street name and zip code and click “View My Locals” to see a comprehensive list of channel results for any desired location in the United States.

Redbox Free Live TV Adds New Channels

Redbox has added more than 10 channels to its lineup on Redbox’s Free Live TV.

The added channels include America’s Test Kitchen, Complex, The Design Network, Real Nosey, Funny or Die, beIN Sports, Outside TV, Chive TV, Voyager Documentaries, Hungry and Just for Laughs Gags.

Also, Free Live TV is now available through the Redbox app on Android TVs.

The service now has more than 50 channels delivering a wide-range of movies, television programming and short-form content, including three Redbox Branded channels curated for the tastes of Redbox customers — Redbox Rush, Redbox Comedy, and Redbox Movies.

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Redbox Free Live TV can be enjoyed via Redbox.com, Roku, iOS and Android devices, as well as Apple TV, Android TV, Vizio Smart TVs, LG TVs and Chromecast. The service doesn’t require a login. Consumers can click “Free Live TV,” choose a channel and start watching.

“Our linear TV service is growing fast, with total hours watched and time spent per user reaching new records in July.” Chris Yates, GM of Redbox On Demand, said in a statement. “We’re excited to continue growing our business both with new content, increased distribution and new features to help our customers find and watch great content, however they want to watch it.”

Ending a Relationship

It had been a long time coming.

Cable TV had been a big part of our lives for decades, a constant entertainment companion, but being together so much during the pandemic took a toll on the relationship. Suddenly, those ever-expanding commercial breaks seemed endless after watching ad-free streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime. Even Hulu, which we watched with ads, served up a more palatable break — and conveniently offered a little countdown to tell us when it would be over.

We picked up YouTube TV for live programming, and that was it. The cable relationship was over. We cut the cord.

Apparently, we are not alone. A Roku survey found one in three U.S. households are cord cutters, and many have decided to make the change in recent months, citing the pandemic, the abundance of free AVOD services, and lack of live sports, among other factors.

Aside from the learning curve on how to work the remote to get to the channel or program I want, it’s been a smooth divorce. Kicking cable out also gave us more space. We gained some shelves by ditching the boxes.

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So far, I don’t miss the old companion. I haven’t found a program or channel that I previously had on cable that I can’t find or approximate on our new streaming combo. Sure, I don’t have the convenient clock on the box to see the time. It takes a little more effort to figure out what I want to watch among all the new choices, but, honestly, I don’t miss cable.

It was the growing relationship with our SVOD services, the new-and-improved version of live TV on YouTube TV and the cable bill’s increasing drain on our finances that drew us away.

When we announced the decision to end it, my daughters looked up from their phones and sarcastically said, “Oh, no! We watch so much cable.”

Goodbye old friend.

FuboTV Getting ESPN, Disney Television Content

Disney Media Networks has inked a distribution agreement with FaceBank Group to deliver news, sports and entertainment content from ESPN and Walt Disney Television to streaming platform fuboTV.

Beginning this summer, customers who subscribe to fuboTV’s fubo standard base package will have access to ABC, ABC News Live, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, in-market for SEC Network and ACC Network, FX, FXX and National Geographic. Additional networks will also be available on fuboTV’s other packages, including out-of-market for SEC Network and ACC Network, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, FXM, Fox Life, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and BabyTV.

The deal includes both live television and VOD.

“With the addition to our lineup of the ESPN suite of channels, we continue to make good on our promise to sports fans to be the undisputed home of professional and college sports,” David Gandler, co-founder and CEO of fuboTV, said in a statement.  “Fubo is equally delighted to add the storied Disney, ABC, FX and Nat Geo networks to round out a robust programming portfolio for the whole family to enjoy.”

“Launching Disney’s networks strengthens our sports-focused live TV platform and brings a diverse range of content for the entire family,” Ben Grad, head of content strategy and acquisition for fuboTV, said in a statement. “Our base package offers consumers significant value, while consumers who want even more great sports and entertainment content can access it with our premium packages. As live sports return but without spectators, streaming games at home will be even more important than ever. We’re thrilled to bring more sports, as well as entertainment and news, to our consumers this summer.”

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“Adding Disney’s array of networks across news, sports and entertainment content with ABC, Disney Channel, ESPN, FX, and Nat Geo delivers a more comprehensive channel lineup and tremendous value to customers’ subscriptions,” Sean Breen, EVP of platform distribution for Disney Media Networks, said in a statement. “With fuboTV’s multiple access points across all major streaming platforms and a competitive price point, we continue to serve a growing audience that consumes video on multiple screens and attract new customers into the pay TV ecosystem.”

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In April, fuboTV merged with FaceBank, combining fuboTV’s direct-to-consumer live TV streaming platform for cord-cutters with FaceBank’s IP in sports, movies and live performances.

FuboTV Names Simone Nardi CFO

Live streaming platform fuboTV has named Simone Nardi CFO.

Nardi is based in New York City and reports directly to CEO David Gandler.

As CFO, Nardi leads all financial operations and strategy for fuboTV. He joins the streaming platform as it prepares to uplist to a major stock exchange following its merger in April with FaceBank Group.

“Simone has already been instrumental in guiding fuboTV through our recent merger,” Gandler said in a statement. “With his deep experience managing finance and strategy for companies undergoing transformations in their business, Simone is an integral new member of fuboTV’s executive team.”

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“I’m extremely honored to join the outstanding team at fuboTV,” Nardi said in a statement. “It’s an exciting time to be joining a proven leader in the media industry at the forefront of the streaming revolution. I look forward to playing a key role as the company continues to expand, drive cost efficiencies and growth and focus on delivering shareholder value.”

Prior to joining fuboTV, Nardi served as SVP and CFO, international for lifestyle content producer Scripps Networks Interactive. In this role, Nardi was responsible for all finance and strategic planning for the company’s international business across Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America. In this role, Nardi was also responsible for leading the company’s international program licensing business and coordinating branding, marketing, technical operations and digital outside of the United States. He was also a member of the board of directors of Scripps’ joint ventures with the BBC in the United Kingdom and with Corus Entertainment in Canada.

Previously, Nardi served as SVP and CFO for NBC Universal’s international channels and television production businesses where he helped build and grow the international TV production operation for NBC Universal, green-lighting and monetizing key franchises such as “Downton Abbey.” Previously, he served as CFO of NBC Universal’s business development division in New York, where he assumed a lead role in launching Hulu.

Nardi began his career with General Electric in Italy and the United States.

FuboTV merged with FaceBank Group in April 2020, combining fuboTV’s direct-to-consumer live TV streaming platform for cord-cutters with FaceBank’s technology-driven IP in sports, movies and live performances.

Netflix and Instagram Partner for ‘Wanna Talk About It’ Live Q&As During Pandemic

Netflix and Instagram have partnered to create a live Q&A series called “Wanna Talk About It,” featuring young Netflix stars discussing how to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Instagram series, which starts April 9 at 4 p.m.PST/7 p.m. EST live from @netflix, will feature stars of some of Netflix’s popular young adult content “talking about taking care of yourself during a global pandemic,” according to a Netflix release.

The series will run every Thursday through May 14.

Participating stars, including Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Joey King (The Kissing Booth), Ross Butler (“13 Reasons Why”), Caleb McLaughlin (“Stranger Things”), Lana Condor (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Jerry Harris (“Cheer”), and Alisha Boe (“13 Reasons Why”), will go live from @netflix on Instagram to talk with mental health experts from organizations including National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America, The Trevor Project, Crisis Text Line and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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The young stars will discuss the questions and challenges young people are facing during the COVID-19 global pandemic, covering topics such as: what helps if you’re having trouble sleeping? how do you stay connected during social distancing? how do we manage anxiety? and what self-care means

The first Instagram Live will launch on @netflix with Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) in conversation with Dr. Ken Duckworth, Chief Medical Officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on self-care.

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Viewers can follow @netflix on Instagram for more details on the upcoming events throughout the month.

Watch the trailer here.

Sling TV Offering 14 Days of Sling Blue for Free

Sling TV has opened its Sling Blue service to consumers for 14 days at no charge (through April 5) as a public service.

Sling TV’s Blue service offers more than 45 live channels, free cloud DVR, more than 50,000 on-demand titles, and allows simultaneous viewing on three screens. It features news channels including CNN, Fox News, HLN, MSNBC, Bloomberg TV, Cheddar News, Newsy and Local Now.

“With more states and municipalities issuing shelter-in-place orders, everyone needs the latest information to do their part,” Warren Schlichting, group president of Sling TV, said in a statement. “We’re hoping to motivate Americans to stay home, and stay informed during this critical time.”

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As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, television news consumption on Sling TV has climbed by triple digits over the last month, according to the service. Since Feb. 24, Sling TV’s viewership of top news channels increased by 121 percent.

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“Now more than ever American’s are anxious to stay up to date, and no other streaming service offers the depth of live news available on SLING Blue,” said Schlichting in a statement.

The offer is part of Sling TV’s “Stay in & Sling” initiative launched last week.

Hulu Launches Free 24/7 Stream of ABC News Live to On-Demand Subscribers

Hulu has partnered with ABC News Live to bring the channel’s 24/7 live coverage to Hulu and Disney billed on-demand subscribers.

“More than 45 percent of Hulu viewers have either cut the cord or never had cable, and may not have access to live, televised news to receive critical information during times of national crisis,” according to a Hulu release. “Given the rapidly-evolving situation around COVID-19, and to ensure that our viewers can stay informed during this time, we’re partnering with ABC News Live to bring the channel’s 24/7 live coverage to Hulu and Disney billed on-demand subscribers as part of their subscription.”

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Beginning March 20, subscribers to Hulu’s ad-supported and Hulu (no ads) plans can access the ABC News Live stream by visiting the “Hulu Picks” collection.

“With this live stream, we aim to keep our viewers informed during this unprecedented time when having access to information is vital to our communities,” read the Hulu release.

 

Sling TV Markets Service With ‘National Cut the Cord Day,’ Discounts

Sling TV announced Feb. 9 is National Cut the Cord Day, to commemorate the service’s fifth anniversary and as part of a five-day celebration with deals available on sling.com Feb. 7-11.

New and returning customers can sign up for one month of discounted Sling TV for $5.

“For the past five years, we’ve been dedicated to making live TV streaming simple, easy and affordable — helping Americans save $1.2 billion through cord-cutting,” said Warren Schlichting, Sling TV group president, in a statement. “National Cut the Cord Day is designed to take away any excuse to cling to cable. We want to help future Slingers find out how easy it is to cut the cord and get started on Sling TV.”

Sling users start with a base service, plus 10 hours of free Cloud DVR ($30 per month), and select any “Extras” they need (starting at $5 each). Users can also add on-demand content from other subscription video on-demand streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu, as well as an over-the-air antenna (OTA) for free access to local broadcast channels.

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“Sling TV has pioneered cord-cutting by giving customers only the channels they want and the ability to integrate local channels into the interface for free, saving hundreds of dollars from their cable bill,” Schlichting said in a statement. “So while making the leap from cable to live TV streaming may feel a little daunting at first, it’s easier than you think, and absolutely worth it. Not only is it incredibly easy to get the most popular channels on your favorite devices, Sling TV seamlessly integrates your free local channels for a whole-home solution, when paired with an OTA antenna and AirTV.”

Cut the Cord Day offers include:

  • the first month of Sling Orange for $5 (originally $30), giving subscribers 30-plus channels with one single stream, including ESPN, Disney Channel, A&E, TNT, HGTV, CNN, TBS, Food Network, Lifetime and Freeform;
  • the first month of Sling Blue for $5 (originally $30), giving subscribers 40-plus channels with three simultaneous streams, including FOX (select markets), NBC (select markets), USA, Bravo, TLC, FX, Fox News and Comedy Central; and
  • the first month of Sling Orange and Sling Blue for $20 (originally $45), giving subscribers both services for 50-plus channels and four simultaneous streams.

Sling TV is also offering new customers a Cord Cutter Bundle to provide full integration of free locals via an OTA antenna, including an AirTV 2, AirTV Mini and OTA antenna for $5 when prepaying for three months of either Sling Orange or Sling Blue at full price (originally $99).

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The registrar at National Day Calendar declared National Cut the Cord Day to be observed on Feb. 9, annually, memorializing Sling TV as the first streaming service to deliver live television over-the-top since its Feb. 9, 2015 debut, according to a Sling press release.

As part of National Cut the Cord Day, Sling TV created a Cord Cutter Hotline (855-553-2862) to support people who are thinking about cutting the cord.

 

Sony to Shutter PlayStation Vue

Sony Interactive Entertainment announced in a blog post that it would be shutting down its PlayStation Vue live TV streaming service on Jan. 30, 2020.

“Unfortunately, the highly competitive pay-TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected,” read the blog from deputy president John Kodera. “Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core gaming business.”

The service launched more than four years ago.

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“PlayStation fans can continue to access movie and TV content through the PlayStation Store on PS4 and via our partnerships with top entertainment apps,” read the blog. “With 100 million PlayStation 4s in the market today, our community continues to grow and thrive. We will continue to deliver the best entertainment experiences across the network, along with other key gaming services, including PlayStation Now and PlayStation Plus.

“We are very proud of what PlayStation Vue was able to accomplish. We had ambitious goals for how our service could change how people watch TV, showcasing PlayStation’s ability to innovate in a brand-new category within the Pay TV industry. We want to thank all of our customers, some of whom have been with us since PlayStation Vue’s launch in 2015.”

Sony reportedly had been looking for a buyer for the service, with roughly half a million subscribers and plans starting at around $50 a month.