Sling TV Entering Sports Wagering Market

Live sports gambling will soon have another player. Dish Network March 3 announced a partnership with DraftKings Sportsbook, the online platform that supplies game statistics, odds, fantasy sports and wagering.

The agreement calls for the first-of-its-kind DraftKings app integration on the Dish TV Hopper platform. The agreement also allows for subsequent DraftKings sportsbook and daily fantasy experiences to be available on Dish-owned online TV platform Sling TV and Boost Mobile in the future.

Online sports gambling is becoming a coveted feature among online TV services, including Fox Corp.’s Tubi, Disney-owned ESPN and FuboTV. The American Gaming Association estimates Americans bet $6.8 billion on last year’s Super Bowl, with an estimated $500 million bet online in this year’s Super Bowl .

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Dish satellite TV subscribers with an Internet-connected Hopper receiver will be able to access the DraftKings app to view betting odds and fantasy contests. They can initiate bets or contest entries with DraftKings directly from their TV, then set recordings and watch the live sports that correspond with those bets or fantasy teams. Placing bets is limited to customers living in states where sports betting is available to DraftKings account holders.

Once a bet or fantasy contest entry is initiated, customers will be prompted via text message through DraftKings-created technology to complete the transaction within the app on their mobile device. Once launched, Dish subs can initiate bets for NCAA basketball, NBA, and NHL from the app via Hopper, with additional features to come.

“Our deal with Dish TV and the technology behind it immerses customers within a next-generation viewership experience and reaches these fanbases in a completely new way,” said Paul Liberman, co-founder/president of product and technology at DraftKings.

Subs can open and use the app while watching any live, on-demand or recorded Dish TV content. DraftKings can be accessed via the Dish voice remote simply by saying “Launch DraftKings” or from the apps menu.

 

Sling TV Reverses Q4 Sub Loss, Still Down for Fiscal Year

Online TV market founder Sling TV Feb. 22 reported a gain of 16,000 subscribers for the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2020). That compared with a loss of 94,000 subs in the previous-year period. It was the second-consecutive quarterly subscriber gain after three quarters of losses. The Dish Network-owned subsidiary ended the fiscal year with 2.47 million subs, down 118,000 subs from the end of 2019.

Dish’s legacy satellite TV service lost 133,000 subs in the quarter, in addition to 578,000 in the year. The operator ended 2020 with 8.81 million subs compared with 9.4 million in 2019.

On the fiscal call, Dish CEO Charlie Ergen lamented the lost opportunities around Sling’s first-mover advantage in online TV.

“We stumbled a little there with the quality of the user experience,” Ergen said. “Our network was the best and the first, but we got a little complacent.”

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When Sling launched in early 2015, it was the first time a pay-TV operator had offered a standalone online TV service, including landmark access to ESPN outside the traditional cable bundle. The market, which quickly included DirecTV Now (now AT&T TV), Charter Spectrum TV Plus, YouTube TV, Philo, Fubo TV, and (now shuttered) Sony PlayStation Vue, among others, was seen as a strategic alternative to cord-cutting and the exploding over-the-top video ecosystem driven by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

Interestingly, Hulu’s branded online TV platform, Hulu+Live TV, now leads the online TV market with more than 4 million subscribers, compared with 3.2 million at the end of 2019. Hulu is now the fifth-largest pay-TV operator in the country.

While Hulu’s growth is due in part to being bundled with Disney+ and ESPN+ in a promotional $12.99 monthly package, the online TV market has upped availability of transactional VOD movies to drive subscriber growth and retention.

Parks Associates found that 60% of pay-TV subs (accounting for nearly half of U.S. broadband households) stream movies and TV shows from an online video service as part of their legacy subscription. Linear-TV subs subscribing to online video services has increased 50% in the past year.

Sling TV Raises Prices

Sling TV Jan. 27 raised prices for Sling Orange and Sling Blue base service customers to $35 per month, an increase of $5 per month. Via the multi-service discount, customers can get both Sling Orange and Sling Blue for $50 per month, also an increase of $5 per month.

Existing customer prices will not change through July 2021, when their existing subscription remains active.

“Unfortunately, we are forced to raise prices because the television networks keep charging us more, but we fight hard to get the best deal for our customers,” Michael Schwimmer, group president of Sling TV, said in a statement. “The proof of our commitment is apparent, as Sling TV is still the best deal in the market, keeping our prices much lower than cable and other live streaming services. Sling TV customers can rest assured that we’ll continue to offer the best combination of live news, sports and entertainment cable channels at the best value.”

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The company also instituted new pricing for Sling TV extras:

  • Sports Extra: New customers with Sling Orange or Sling Blue will now pay $11 per month (an increase of $1 per month); new customers who subscribe to both Sling Orange and Sling Blue will continue to pay $15 per month.
  • All other Extras: New customers who subscribe to Comedy Extra, Kids Extra, News Extra, Lifestyle Extra, Hollywood Extra and/or Heartland Extra, will now pay $6 per month for each Extra (an increase of $1 per month).
  • Total TV Deal: New customers who want all the programming Sling TV has to offer can now subscribe to the Total TV Deal for $21 per month with a Sling Orange or Sling Blue service (an increase of $1 per month), or $27 per month for new customers subscribed to both Sling Orange and Sling Blue (increase of $2 per month). The Total TV Deal provides customers with DVR Plus and all seven Sling TV Extras (Sports Extra, Comedy Extra, Kids Extra, News Extra, Lifestyle Extra, Hollywood Extra and Heartland Extra), a value of up to $56 per month.

 

All Sling Orange and Sling Blue customers will receive a free preview of Sling TV’s “4 Extras Deal” through Feb. 15. The 4 Extras Deal provides customers with Kids Extra, News Extra, Lifestyle Extra and Comedy Extra for $12 per month (a savings of $12 per month if purchased separately).

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Sling TV also expanded its DVR offerings to all existing and new subscribers. Sling TV customers can now enjoy 50 hours of free DVR storage, an increase from 10 free storage hours, or upgrade to “DVR Plus” for 200 hours of storage, up from 50, for $5 per month.

“A robust DVR feature is a must-have for a premium entertainment experience — customers have told us they want more, and we delivered,” said Schwimmer in a statement. “By more than quadrupling DVR for all customers at no charge, Sling TV continues to provide the best value for pay-TV in the industry.”

All existing DVR Plus customers will automatically receive 200 hours in their storage, starting Jan. 28.

Sling TV Q3 Sub Growth Cools; Dish TV Sub Loss Increases

Dish Network Nov. 6 said it added 203,000 Sling TV subscribers during the three months ended Sept. 30, down 5.2% from the addition of 214,000 subs during the same period in 2019. This decrease in sub additions was primarily related to lower Sling TV activations, increased competition, including competition from other SVOD and live-linear OTT service providers, and delays and cancellations of sporting events as a result of COVID-19.

Dish ended the quarter with 2.46 million Sling TV subs, which is down 8.6% from 2.69 million subs a year ago.

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At the same time, Dish lost 87,000 legacy pay-TV subscribers, 32% more than a sub loss of 66,000 last year. This increase in subscriber losses primarily resulted from lower Dish subscriber activations, partially offset by a lower churn rate.

The Colorado-based satellite TV operator ended the period with just 8.96 million pay-TV subs, down almost 6% from 9.49 million subs the same time last year.

Facebook Adds Netflix, Zoom to Portal TV

Facebook Oct. 6 announced it is adding Netflix and social media communications app Zoom to its Portal TV platform. The platform is similar to Amazon Channels and Apple Channels, affording users direct access to third-party SVOD services.

Portal TV, which requires separate SVOD subscriptions, currently offers a range of video streaming services, including Amazon Prime VideoShowtime and Sling TV.

Facebook is also introducing a new remote that features one-touch buttons for Prime Video, Facebook Watch and Netflix, among other entertainment apps, for Portal device users. The remote begins shipping with Portal TV Oct. 6 from portal.facebook.com and will be in stores in the coming weeks.

Featuring high-fidelity sound and an AI-powered Smart Camera for hands-free video calling, Zoom on Portal can connect up to 25 people on a screen.

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Portal devices range in price from $129 with an 8-inch HD display, to $279 for a 15.6-inch HD display.

Sling TV Bows ‘Watch Party’ Featuring Voice, Text

With most TV viewers multitasking on social media, Dish Network’s online TV streaming service, Sling TV, Sept. 23 launched a new feature in beta, “Sling Watch Party,” which enables subscribers to connect via voice and text with non-subscribing friends and family in remote locations to stream programming together — a first for the live television industry.

Through a special beta preview of Sling Watch Party ending Sept. 30, invited guests may attend a Watch Party simply by creating a Sling TV account.

“We know that for so many, it’s not just about what you are watching, it’s who you are watching with,” Jon Lin, VP of product, said in a statement. “We could all use more time together to enjoy our favorite sports and entertainment, which is why we created this new feature.”

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Sling Watch Party features include:

  • Video and text chat: Connect in real-time with other SLING Watch Party guests while viewing a program, via video or text chat.
  • Audio and visual controls: All participants have full control over their own video camera, the volume of their individual content stream and volume of video chat streams received from other participants.
  • Player controls: Slingers hosting a Watch Party can manage player controls, including play, pause and rewind for on-demand programming.
  • Sling TV programming: Choose from live or on-demand content available in Sling Orange, Sling Blue, Sling Latino and Sling International services, or any Sling TV Extra, depending on a customer’s current subscription.

 

The feature is available on Google Chrome web browsers and allows subscribers to invite up to three guests to for shared TV viewing.

To host a “watch party,” sign in on sling.com via Google Chrome web browser. Select any eligible live or on-demand title from a Sling TV ribbon; a Watch Party may be created up to 60 minutes prior to air time, for live program. Click “create watch party” from the title’s information screen. Invite up to three guests to join via a unique, shareable link or email. Click “start watching” when the selected title is scheduled to begin.

Dish Loses 96,000 Pay-TV Subs in Q2, Including 56,000 Sling TV Accounts

Dish Network Aug. 7 said it lost 96,000 pay-TV subscribers in the second quarter (ended June 30), including 56,000 Sling TV paid members. That compared with a loss of 79,000 pay-TV subs during the previous-year period, in addition to a gain of 48,000 Sling TV customers.

The company closed the quarter with 11.27 million pay-TV subscribers, including 9.02 million Dish TV subs and 2.25 million Sling TV subs. The online TV service has now lost more than 200,000 subs in the previous 12 months of the fiscal year, ending the prior-year period with 2.47 million subs.

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The satellite TV operator attributed the subscriber losses to ongoing economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, including unemployment and loss of live sports programming. Sling TV launched in 2015 as the first online TV service, including the first to offer ESPN as part of non-traditional pay-TV bundle.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption in certain commercial segments served by Dish, including the hospitality and airline industries,” the company said in a statement.

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Dish said increased competition, including competition from other subscription video on-demand and online TV service providers have negatively impacted sub growth. Indeed, with the exception of Sony killing PlayStation Vue, the online TV market now includes AT&T TV, YouTube TV, Philo, FuboTV and Hulu with Live TV, among others.

Dish reported quarterly profit of $452 million on revenue of $3.19 billion. That compared with profit of $317 million on revenue of $3.21 billion in the previous-year period.

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.

Sling TV, Dish Add AMC Plus Streaming Service

AMC Networks July 20 announced an agreement with Dish Network that will make its AMC Plus SVOD service available on Dish’s online TV platform Sling TV.

Launched in June, AMC Plus ($6.99 monthly) affords subscribers access to all AMC Networks programming, including “The Walking Dead” and “Better Call Saul,” among others.

The Sling deal is the second carriage agreement following AMC Plus’ initial availability on Comcast Cable’s Xfinity and broadband-only Flex platforms. Sling introduced the online TV market in 2015.

AMC Plus bundle also includes series from AMC, IFC and Sundance TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, IFC Films Unlimited, which offers a collection of theatrically released titles from IFC Films, among other sources.

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“This new bundle, available for the first time to Dish and Sling TV customers, was designed to offer fans of our programming greater choice and an enhanced customer experience, as we work with Dish and Sling TV to embrace the new ways in which viewers consume content today,” Josh Reader, president of distribution and development at AMC Networks, said in a statement.

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Sling TV Offers One-Year Price Guarantee

Sling TV has instituted a one-year price guarantee for all new and existing customers as online competitors, such as FuboTV and YouTube TV, have announced price hikes.

“In the current economic environment, many Americans are taking a hard look at their budgets,” read a July 1 company blog from Michael Schwimmer, group president, Sling TV. “Sling TV knows how difficult it can be to see any bill go up while trying to make ends meet or saving for the future.”

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For customers who sign up for Sling TV or who have an existing account by Aug. 1, 2020, Sling TV will guarantee their current price on any Sling TV service through Aug. 1, 2021.

“We believe now is not the time to make our customers choose between staying informed and entertained, and putting dinner on the table,” he wrote. “Our hope is this one-year price guarantee will bring a sense of much needed stability in a time that feels uncertain to us all.”

Other offers include a 14-day free trial through July 6 and a free AirTV 2 with an OTA antenna for prepaying for three months of Sling TV (the combo allows access to local over-the-air broadcast networks).