At the Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas’ Superbowl for people who love gadgets and technology, Dish Network Corp. introduced an online streaming service that will allow users to stream live and on-demand content from a myriad of television stations and digital content producers. Sling TV, as it is being called, will launch this month with a $20 per month price tag and not require any contract, commitment or additional services required to take advantage, besides an internet connection and a playback device.
Dish Network Corp. has successfully negotiated contracts with content owners from Time Warner (TNT), Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. (Food Network) and Walt Disney Co (ESPN) and in doing so have positioned themselves to take the reins on providing traditional television services to “cord-cutters” or people who are no longer willing to pay high cable or satellite monthly premiums, wish to be more mobile in their media consumption or want to avoid lengthy commitments to services not deemed “necessary.” Cord-cutters, for some time now, have been taking advantage of different platforms to keep up with content without cable or satellite services, using Netflix, Hulu Plus or watching broadcast shows online.
While several of my twitter followers have expressed extreme interest in Sling TV, I remain skeptical, and will likely not become an early adopter. It’s not because I enjoy paying for cable or satellite, it’s not because Sling TV has no use for me, it’s not because I don’t want to view content only available to me with a cable/satellite log-in. It’s because right now it doesn’t do enough to end my need for cable/satellite. The key phrase there is right now. As of November of 2013, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen admitted he was “0 for 50” in talking with major content producers in securing contracts for this service. Dish currently doesn’t have partnerships with NBC, CBS, Fox and Discovery at this time, but is continuing negotiations with these holdouts.
Once Dish expands the content included in the Sling TV it will be more than worth it, but as it currently sits it doesn’t offer me the variety of content I would want in exchange for cutting the cord. Though I’ve given up renting DVDs, in favor of streaming services like Netflix and AmazonPrime, I just can’t bring myself to cut the cord from my tv provider, at least not until Sling TV has a wider variety of content available, although they made the major step in making ESPN available. It will be interesting to see just how far their offerings can expand, however, as Sony, CBS and HBO are all investing in their own streaming platforms. Eventually consumers will be paying as much as for streaming services when it’s all said and done as they currently do for cable and satellite, although the additonal flexibility to watch from anywhere with an internet connection will make it more than worth it.