Updated with Disney comment: Dish Network’s Sling TV looks more like a low-cost replacement for conventional pay TV, and less like a sideshow targeted to non-subscribers, as a result of what it calls a “beta” offering announced this morning.
Customers will be able to stream a package of traditional channels to three devices simultaneously, in or out of home, for $20 a month. That contrasts with Sling’s main offering which only serves one device at a time, also for $20.
Although a lot of channels are available on both plans, there are a few big differences: The new offering doesn’t include Disney’s ESPN, ESPN2, and Freeform (formerly ABC Family), which are in the basic package for the service that launched in early 2015.
Disney says it’s in “active discussions” with Dish to join the multi-stream package. “Our brands and content are best-in-class and would add unparalleled value to this new service,” it adds.
But the “beta” multi-stream includes several Fox local stations, Fox Sports, FX, NatGeo, truTV, UniMas, and Univision — which aren’t in the single stream basic bundle. Users who pay extra for additional channels will also be able to watch on up to three devices simultaneously.
“We see this as just the beginning—as we evolve the multi-stream service, we plan to incorporate your feedback, add more channels and include features that will make Sling TV even better,” the company says in a blog post about the new offer.
The multi-stream offering casts a slightly different light on Sling. When it was launched, execs pointed to the single stream as evidence that it would not appeal to families looking for an alternative to cable and satellite’s pricey expanded basic bundles.
Sling TV “is really targeting a different demographic” — especially Millennials who “are not subscribing to pay-TV in nearly the percentages that previous generations did,” CEO Roger Lynch said at the time.
But Dish CEO Charlie Ergen told analysts in February that he considers the satellite business to be mature, while Sling is growing. He wanted “two or three other content providers to participate in what we’re doing at Sling,” saying that it could offer additional customers and ad sales opportunities in “a new model that’s going to be around for 20 or 30 years.”
Multi-stream customers will be able to watch Fox network and local programming live or on demand in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte N.C., Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Gainesville, Fla., Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pa., Phoenix, San Francisco, Tampa, Fla. and Washington D.C.
They also can watch in-market sports from Fox’s regional networks in 16 communities. The list includes multiple Fox Sports outlets, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, and the New York Yankees’ YES Network.