Dish Goes 4K, Adds Music Apps

Satellite TV provider also unveils Sling TV OTT service
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Satellite TV provider also unveils Sling TV OTT service
dDish_4K Ultra HD Joey from DISH.jpg

LAS VEGAS -- Dish revealed it isn’t waiting around to change with the times, by unveiling its first 4K Ultra HD programming plans and an over-the-top (OTT) streaming service called Sling TV targeting so-called cord cutters.

At a press event here Monday, Dish CEO Joseph Clayton took a jab at DirecTV and declared,

“Unlike some of our competitors, who have bought back their stock to artificially pump up their value – admittedly a great thing for a short-term shareholder – Dish has been investing in our future for our stakeholders, not only our shareholders but our employees, our customers and our partners and the communities in which we serve.”

Clayton pointed to its new over-the-top channel service as not merely duplicating its satellite service on the Internet, rather, it will offer a changing marketplace of Millennials, who typically don’t subscribe to any pay TV service, an affordable and easy to use alternative. He added the new service will not cannibalize the Dish service, because the target customer doesn’t subscribe to Dish.

The Sling TV OTT streaming service was optimized for mostly younger audiences that for a variety of reasons have rejected traditional subscription-based pay TV services.

Roger Lynch, Sling TV CEO, said the Sling TV audience needs less expensive alternatives to conventional subscription platforms.

The new Dish OTT service emerged from a similar successful multi-language platform the company has offered to international subscribers, Lynch explained.

The service will offer many of the most popular live “cable” channels, with VOD options, and mobile viewing capability while eschewing the need for credit checks or service contracts.

The launch package for Sling TV includes the best of live TV such as ESPN, ESPN2, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, TNT, CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and the best of Internet video with Maker Studios.  Additional add-on packs with kids and news programming will also be announced.

The service charges $20 a month for a base package of 12 live channels, and will soon provide add-on packages of additional channels for kids, news, and more sports, for $5 each.

An app for Sling TV will be offered on a variety of platforms including: Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google Nexus Player, Roku players, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku TVs, LG Electronics Smart TVs, iOS,

Android, Mac and PC.

A number of smart TV models are also expected to offer the service, in addition to iOS and Android mobile devices.

For 4K Ultra HDTV, Vivek Khemka, Dish product management senior VP, said that starting this summer, Dish will supply 4K UHD programming through a new 4K Joey box for 4K UHD TVs with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 ports.

The 4K Joey, which will carry a comparable cost to existing Joey devices, is slimmer than current Joey boxes, so it can be placed on a console or mounted on a wall. The box supports HEVC and 4K playback at up to 60 fps and offers full 10-bit color resolution. A dual-core ARM processor speeds up device operation, Bluetooth audio playback links to wireless headphones and a picture-in-picture function is added.

Dish will transmit 4K VOD content, encoded in HEVC, which will be automatically cached to a connected Hopper.

Meanwhile, Dish also announced its first online third party streaming music video partner Vevo will be available via an app on the Hopper, allowing customers to find, watch and listen to music by artists, genre, title or by a customized playlist, without the need of additional equipment.

Dish also announced a Dish Music App will be available to iOS and Android platforms and on the Hopper, offering music from the iHeart Radio, Pandora or TuneIn services for play back in any room in the house.

The app automatically detects the number or rooms and zones and will allow sending music to each independently or synchronized together. More streaming music services are expected to be added over time.

Also planned is an app from Live that will allow importing personal photos from PCs, Macs and smartphones onto the Hopper.

Meanwhile, Dish is adding a remote control for the Hopper called the Hopper Voice Controller along with a new “Carbon” user interface. The remote is the size of an iPhone 5s, with a central touchpad supporting touch and swipe navigation in addition to voice commands.

The Carbon Interface was designed to make it easier to see and find settings and personal content. Users will also be able to go to the home screen to find programs predicted to be most relevant to the user’s preferences that day.

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