Sling TV strikes deal with Univision for its online TV service

Online TV streaming service Sling TV is about to get bilingual: Sling TV has struck an agreement with Univision to carry its Spanish-language broadcast and cable networks, both companies announced Monday. The deal could help Sling, which is currently in an invite-only beta test, with an audience that is most likely to cut the cord.

Under the agreement, Sling will be able to carry Univision, UniMás, Univision Deportes, Galavisión, El Rey Network, Bandamax, De Película, De Película Clásico, Telehit, Tlnovelas and FOROtv.

There’s no word yet on how Sling, which is owned and operated by Dish, is going to integrate the networks into its service. The company introduced a $20 base plan with 12 networks, including ESPN and TNT, at CES last month. In addition, it is offering a $5 kids and family bundle and a $5 news and information bundle as add-on packages. Company executives said at CES that they will launch a sports add-on package as well, and Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch actually hinted at a Spanish-language plan as well.

It’s possible that Sling could build a completely separate base package for Spanish-language viewers, or offer some of Univision’s content as an add-on package. It’s also likely that it will offer Univision Desportes as part of its sports package. I asked a Sling TV spokesperson for details, but have yet to hear back.

Regardless, adding Univision is a smart move for Sling TV. Latinos are a growing and very tech-savvy audience that is more likely to stream video online than other parts of the U.S. population. In addition, Univision viewers are extremely loyal to the network, with an executive telling the Wall Street Journal last fall that 76 percent of its viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 only watch Univision and no other network. Those viewers are least likely to pay $100 a month for an expensive, over-sized cable bundle, which is why Sling TV could succeed with a more targeted and much more affordable plan.

Here’s a first look at Sling TV:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od3yR0D-c68]

All you need to know about Dish’s new Sling TV service

Dish’s Sling TV online streaming service, which the company plans to launch in the coming weeks, made waves at CES earlier this month, but a few questions were left unanswered. Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch took to Reddit this week to answer some of them in the form of an AMA-style crowdsourced interview.

Here are some of the highlights of the AMA, as well as other previously announced details that potential Sling TV customers may be interested in:

  • Base package content: For $20, Sling TV will get you access to live feeds from ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN.
  • Kids’ package content: An optional $5 kids’ package gets you access to live feeds from Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV.
  • News package content: Sling TV’s optional $5 news and information package includes access to live feeds from HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV.
  • Sports package content: There will eventually be a sports add-on package as well, but details are still scarce. Said Lynch: “We’re not ready to announce specific channels for the ‘Sports Extra’ add-on pack, but you can expect to see more great channels from ESPN, as well as other popular sports networks.”
  • WatchESPN: Access to WatchESPN is included, said Lynch. But the devil is in the details: Sling TV base package subscribers only have access to ESPN1, ESPN2 and ESPN3 via WatchESPN, according to an ESPN spokesperson.
  • Number of devices: “You can have Sling TV on as many devices as you want, however at launch, Sling TV will be a single-stream service,” said Lynch.
  • Resolution and bandwidth: Sling TV will be available in 720p and 1080p, and users will be able to tweak their streaming settings: “Through settings, we give you tools to limit the bandwidth for your streaming if you’re worried about your data cap,” Lynch said.
  • Speaking of bandwidth caps: Sling TV’s CEO seems to be aware of last-mile issues, especially since he’s competing with ISPs and their TV services. “We do have concerns about net-neutrality and the effect the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger could have on the broadband market,” he said.
  • Surround sound: Sling TV supports Dolby surround sound where available. “We support DD 5.1 and it will be available on most channels and most VOD content,” Lynch told Reddit readers.
  • 4K: Won’t be available at launch, in part because TV networks aren’t quite ready. “No live channels are offering 4K content yet,” he said.
  • Device availability: Sling TV will be available on Android TV, Fire TV, Roku, Xbox One, iOS, Android and desktops. The iOS app will support Airplay. There won’t be any Chromecast support at launch, but it’s coming: Lynch said, “We plan to launch on many more devices throughout the year, and Chromecast is on our list!” He was notably less enthusiastic about bringing Sling TV to the Playstation, saying: “Not at launch but we’re always open to new device partnerships.” That might be because Sony is about to launch its own TV service on the Playstation.
  • How to get access: Sling TV will officially launch in the coming weeks, but Lynch shared a trick for everyone who wants first dibs: “Just go to Sling.com to get your invite. We’re rolling these out later this month before the general public.”