Sling TV Offering Free, à La Carte Programming Without Subscription

Sling TV June 28 became the first online TV service to offer free content, à la carte channels, plus transactional live events and digital movie purchases, without requiring a base monthly subscription.

The new service is available to returning Sling customers on Roku devices. The updated options will expand to additional Sling-supported streaming media devices in the near future.

“The new Sling evolves the experience even further by providing access to great content without anchoring customers to a base subscription,” Warren Schlichting, president of Sling TV, said in a statement.

Upon re-opening the Sling TV app, former subs can access more than 100 hours of free TV shows and movies without restarting their subscription. Ribbons within the “My TV” interface dedicated to free shows and movies include, “Wrecked,” “The Detour,” “Good Behavior,” and “Flip or Flop,” among others.

Users can purchase select channels in an à la carte fashion and watch them through the Sling TV app without a subscription.

Channels available as à la carte subscriptions range from Showtime, to on-demand channels and sports packages.

Additions include Cinedigm’s Dove Channel, Outside TV Features and Stingray Karaoke, joining à la carte on-demand channels CuriosityStream, Pantaya and Up Faith & Family.

Each channel can be purchased month-to-month and accessed through the Sling TV app alongside free shows and other purchased content.

Monthly pricing for à la carte channels includes Showtime ($10); CuriosityStream ($6); Stingray Karaoke ($7); Dove Channel ($5); Outside TV Features ($5); Up Faith & Family ($5); Pantaya ($6), and NBA League Pass: $28.99

Sling TV was the first online TV service to offer pay-per-view (PPV) events, and has presented more than 15 events since 2017, including UFC fights and boxing matches.

Consumers can now access PPV events as a one-time purchase without purchasing a Sling TV subscription. Users can choose to use Sling TV solely for their PPV events or combine their PPV purchases with any of Sling TV’s base subscriptions.

In addition to the PPV UFC and boxing matches, users also have the option to purchase digital movies.


Complete ‘Masters of Sex’ Among Mill Creek’s August Blu-ray Releases

Mill Creek Entertainment’s August 2018 slate will include Masters of Sex: The Complete Series on Blu-ray and DVD. The series stars Michael Seen and Lizzy Caplan as famed sex researchers Masters and Johnson, in a fictionalized account of their efforts to study human sexuality in the 1950s and 1960s.

The show ran for 46 episodes across four seasons on Showtime before being canceled in 2016. Only the first two seasons have previously been released on disc in the United States, by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The complete-series set will arrive Aug. 21.

Other titles on the Mill Creek calendar for Aug. 7 include:

  • Happy Endings: The Complete Series on Blu-ray and DVD, presenting the ABC sitcom that ran from 2011 to 2013.
  • Flora on Blu-ray with digital copy, about a team of botanists exploring a deadly forest. Extras include filmmaker commentary, deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
  • The six-part documentary series American Hunter on DVD with digital copy.
  • WWI: The War to End All Wars, a documentary on DVD with digital copy.

Documentary Now! Season One & Season Two arrives Aug. 14 on DVD and Blu-ray with digital copy, a parody of documentary films with Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Helen Mirren.

Strait-Jacket & Beserk Double Feature Blu-ray arrives Aug. 21.

‘I’m Dying Up Here’ Season One on DVD May 29

Paramount Home Media Distribution and CBS Home Entertainment will release I’m Dying Up Here: Season One on DVD May 29. The Showtime series deals with stand-up comedians trying to make it in Hollywood in the 1970s.

The cast includes Melissa Leo, Ari Graynor, Clark Duke, Michael Angarano, RJ Cyler, Andrew Santino, Erik Griffin, Al Madrigal and Jake Lacy.

Created by David Flebotte, “I’m Dying Up Here” is based on the nonfiction book of the same name by William Knoedelseder and is executive produced by Flebotte, Jim Carrey, Michael Aguilar and Christina Wayne

The series was renewed for a second 10-episode season slated to premiere May 6.

CEO: Showtime ‘Punching Above Our Weight’ Competing with Netflix

Showtime, along with HBO, once ruled the edgy episodic programing market – a position increasingly under siege by subscription streaming video services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

As a result, CBS-owned Showtime now finds itself trying to stay competitive with Netflix, which is spending $8 billion on original TV shows and movies this year. It launched a branded SVOD service in 2015 – now more than 2.5 million subscribers.

Speaking March 12 at INTV confab in Jerusalem, Showtime CEO David Nevins the onslaught of over-the-top video and episodic programing has resulted in Showtime “punch[ing] above our weight” in an effort to keep up.

“It’s a deluge right now, particularly from the streamers — Netflix more than anything,” Nevins said, as reported by Variety. “They’re still in high-growth mode. They’re not trying to deliver earnings.”

Maybe, but Netflix is delivering earnings. The streaming pioneer generated $627 million in profit on revenue of more than $11.1 billion in 2017. It now has more than 117 million subs globally.

Nevins contends that while Netflix is chasing headlines signing marquee content creators, Showtime is targeting curated programing such as “The Chi,” “Our Cartoon President,” “Homeland,” “Billions” (returning March 25), “I’m Dying Up Here” and “The Affair” (returning June 17), “Ray Donovan,” and pending “Escape at Dannemora,” from Ben Stiller, and “Patrick Melrose,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, among others.

“There’s a counter-narrative that’s beginning that’s helpful to us,” he said.

Speaking in January at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, Nevins said Showtime has the budget to attract top talent in and front behind the camera. Referencing the New York Yankees, he added that unlimited spending doesn’t guarantee success.

Indeed, Showtime in 2017 had its biggest ever year of subscription revenue growth and, on a percentage basis, the best sub growth in 16 years.

“But we are … maintaining our margins,” Nevins said. “We are spending more money because we are generating more revenue.”


It’s a Netflix World

NEWS ANALYSIS – Netflix hit another fiscal home run Jan. 22, reporting record 8.3 million subscriber growth in its most-recent financial period. The SVOD pioneer now has more than 117 million subscribers globally.

And it’s growing, with no end in sight. The company forecasting 6.4 million new subs in the first quarter, ending March 31.

Oh yeah, Netflix is profitable too – generating $186 million profit on revenue of nearly $3.3 billion – in 90 days! That’s nearly 33% year-over-year growth from the same regulatory period at the end of 2016.

The same day, CNBC reported that online TV competitors “Hulu With Live TV” and YouTube TV had generated 450,000 and 300,000 subscribers, respectively, since launching last year. They trail Dish Network’s pioneering Sling TV with 2 million subs and DirecTV Now with 1 million.

While Hulu, which is co-owned by Disney (Fox), Comcast and Time Warner (AT&T), and Google-owned YouTube haven’t officially revealed sub data, the numbers are telling.

When combined with HBO Now (2 million subs), Showtime OTT and CBS All Access (4 million), the entire online TV universe (including PlayStation Vue) barely edges Netflix’s most-recent quarterly sub growth.

“It actually shows you how poor the value proportion is for live TV,” BTIG Research Rich Greenfield told CNBC.

That’s an understatement.

Hulu’s original SVOD service has 17 million subs, which trails significantly to Netflix’s 55 million domestic subs. Amazon Prime Video, which is bundled with the Prime membership, reportedly has more than 40 million U.S. members – although it is unknown how many Prime members stream video.

Critics suggest Netflix’s domestic sub growth is waning, but CEO Reed Hastings disagrees, arguing the service’s U.S. market remains unchanged from management projections five years ago in the 60 -90 million range.

“So, we’ve got a way to go just to cross into the bottom of our expectation range,” Hastings said on the webcast.

In other words, it’s a Netflix world, everyone else is just living in it.

FuboTV Adds Showtime

Online sports television service FuboTV Jan. 11 announced the addition of Showtime, the premium pay-TV channel owned by CBS.

Showtime is available for the standard $10.99 monthly fee, and includes access to nine premium channels: Showtime East, Showtime West, Showtime 2, Showtime Showcase, Showtime Extreme, Showtime Beyond, Showtime Next, Showtime Women and Showtime Family.

Showtime series include “Billions,” “The Chi,” “Homeland” and “Shameless,” among others.

Priced at $19.99 (for two months; $39.99 monthly thereafter), FuboTV offers streaming access to more than 65 channels – 37 of which are sports-themed.

Others include HGTV, A&E Network, SYFY, The Weather Channel, Fox News, Fox, CNBC and FX, among others.