EchoStar’s new Sling TV service for cord cutters is already preparing for its commercial launch and has sent out the first wave of invitations to consumers who pre-registered for the service.
The first invitees were notified at midnight today that they will be able to begin enjoying the live over-the-top (OTT) channel service before Sling begins its commercial launch sometime within the next two weeks.
At launch, new Sling TV customers will have the ability to sign up for either a one-week free trial, or a “device bundle” that will provide a streaming media player compatible with the Sling TV service.
Although the exact device offered in the bundle was not disclosed, Sling TV will support Android and iOS smartphones and tablets; web browsers; Roku boxes, the Roku Streaming Stick; Roku TVs; Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.
Over the weekend, the company also provided TWICE with the opportunity to try out the new service. Set-up was easy and fast, and operation worked fluidly on a Comcast broadband service running a 24Mbps download speed.
After a brief run-through, the service delivered a satisfying viewing experience. Quality high-definition pictures streamed easily without buffering issues. For the most part pictures appeared as smooth and sharp as the broadcast offered via DirecTV’s satellite service.
However, those used to cable and satellite service will miss convenience features like DVR recording and backup, and will have to make some arrangement to receive local TV channels in their market. Many are expected to use over-the-air antennas, if they live within range of a transmission tower. Others may opt for some sort of cable lifeline package or streaming broadcast TV service like Ivi.TV or the CBS All Access service.
Sling said its service is targeted at mostly millennials, who for a variety of reasons (mostly monetary) have opted not to take traditional cable, satellite or telco TV services, opting instead for a variety of OTT streaming services, like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu, in order to pay for only what they want to watch.
Beyond the target millennials, it’s easy to see that with an increasing number of baby boomers entering retirement and the economy continuing to feed the unemployment rolls, it’s also likely new OTT streaming TV options like Sling TV will also provide attractive options for those facing longer-term fixed incomes.
As covered in TWICE’s International CES reporting, Sling TV is designed to fill in the gaps by offering live channels from about a dozen of the most popular cable channels, including Disney, ESPN, ESPN 2, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, ABC Family, CNN, TNT, TBS, HGTV, TLC, Travel Channel, and Food Network.
The service fee starts at $20 per month for the core channel lineup and access to a VOD library.
Sling TV will also offer selections of add-on channel packs for additional $5 per month fees. These include: Kids Extra — Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV; and News & Info Extra — HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV.
Unlike most traditional pay-TV services, Sling TV does not require credit checks and other qualifications. Subscribers simply register a credit card and pay as they go each month.