Slingbox, the ahead-of-its-time piece of hardware that enabled remote viewing of pay-TV signals, is headed for the scrapheap.
The technology maker, acquired by Echostar and now owned by Dish Network, said Monday it will sunset all devices, making them “inoperable” by November 2022. Trade journals as far back as 2017 reported the company had stopped manufacturing new devices, though did not confirm the move at the time.
For truly dedicated users, SlingPlayer apps will still be available for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and via the company’s website. But its signature hardware, which was introduced in 2004, will fade from the scene.
“We’ve had to make room for new innovative products so that we can continue to serve our customers in the best way possible,” Slingbox explained in a Q&A posted to its website Monday, though it conceded it has nothing new on the drawing board.
When it was first conceived by entrepreneurs and fans of baseball’s San Francisco Giants who wanted to watch their games when they were on the road, streaming was far from a full-fledged business. Broadband penetration still was limited and major outfits like YouTube and Hulu had not yet been born. In its early years, Sling made deals with pay-TV operators to feature its watch-anywhere technology.
Those deals were predicated to some extent on the traditional pay-TV bundle. They merely layered on extra charges at the same time Netflix and Amazon were beginning to stream a wide array of shows and customers were growing restless about the cord. Over time, the ubiquity of streaming video without a separate device — and Sling TV’s focus on internet-delivered TV packages since 2015 — made Slingbox less viable.
The news left most tech observers and fans a bit wistful. Here are some of the initial reactions:
When I die, I want the people from @Slingbox to be my pallbearers so they can let me down one last time. The greatest invention no one ever heard of is dead. Long live the Slingbox. https://t.co/GZNIXl8Eac
— Chris Pollone (@ChrisPollone) November 9, 2020
Apparently all @Sling Slingbox products are being discontinued & they are pulling the plug on this service in 24 months. https://t.co/cjTH8cZxBA Another sad case of tech firm wanting to charge you monthly for something you used to be able to purchase one time. #ProfitNotProgress
— David Danto (@NJDavidD) November 9, 2020
— Mike Dyer (@Mikdyer252) November 9, 2020
RIP Slingbox, a truly great invention https://t.co/AIQldV0CKH
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 9, 2020