Market Insight

More validation for the fledgling Sling TV

March 26, 2015  | Subscribers Only

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Dish is once again boosting the channel lineup of its Sling TV service by including A+E networks. A+E, History, Lifetime and H2 have joined the core package, boosting the channel line up to 21 for Sling TV’s “Best of Live TV” package, keeping the price at $20 /mo. In addition, FYI and Lifetime Movie Network have been added to the $5 /mo add-on package, Lifestyle extra.

Dish has been steadily increasing its channel offering since Sling TV launched on February 9, 2015 with 14 channels in its “Best of Life TV” Package. Since then, Dish has gradually increased the value proposition; by adding AMC, IFC, Galavision and now four A+E networks, without increasing the price of its core package.

Other additions since the Launch of Sling TV include the launch of the $5 /mo packages, Hollywood Extra, which includes EPIX networks and Sundance TV, and the Lifestyle Extra package, featuring channels such as Cooking Channel, DIY, WeTV and now FYI and LMN.  Dish has also revamped its original “News & Info Extra” package into the “World News Extra” package, readjusting channels in the package as well.

Our analysis

The addition of A+E's channels makes perfect sense for Sling TV who is looking to deconstruct the modern pay TV macro bundle in a way that makes sense to consumers. The model isn't a new one, several pay TV operators in Canada operate on a similar base package (on a larger scale) + theme pack model. It is important to note that Sling TV is not a la carte TV, but it's as close it's going to come in the USA in the near term.

It remains to be seen whether or not US consumers will embrace the service, as it has the disadvantage of not being as accessible by TVs as traditional cable STBs do. Dish is working hard to making it as accessible as possible, by having Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Xbox One support, but with only one concurrent stream available at a time, it still has hurdles to overcome. However, for the reduction in monthly bill it is likely that a number of US consumers will be creative.

IHS expects that Sling TV will continue to add channels to the service as deals can be negotiated. What's interesting to note is that it hasn't brought MTV, MTV2, Spike or CMT to the service. It may be that Viacom signed an exclusivity deal with Playstation Vue, or it could be a matter of simple economics. Whatever the reason, the Viacom channels represent a hole in Sling TV's lineup. While the lack of certain channels isn't likely to be the straw that breaks the Camel's back, it is fair to say that some potential subscribers may be discouraged.

Channel addition remains a significant opportunity for Sling TV. If the service can continue to add channels it's likely that it will be able to carve out a niche for itself within the US pay TV ecosystem.

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