AMC, IFC and Epix go live on Sling TV

Don Draper, meet Sling TV: The recently launched online TV subscription service started to carry AMC and IFC as well as the Epix family of movie channels Wednesday, which means that Sling TV subscribers can now tune in live for episodes of shows like The Walking Dead and Mad Men.

AMC and IFC are part of Sling’s $20 base package, which also includes ESPN1 and ESPN2 as well as TNT, TBS, Galavision, HGTV and a handful of other cable channels. Sling TV is also introducing a new Hollywood add-on package that includes Epix, Epix 2, Epix 3, Epix Drive-In and Sundance TV. The add-on package will cost customers an additional $5 a month, just like Sling’s existing add-ons.

The Hollywood add-on package will come with a replay feature to catch up on shows up to seven day after they aired. That’s neat, but likely won’t help to make Sling’s catch-up policy any less confusing.

Currently, the service offers three-day catch-up for channels like HGTV, Food Network, Galavision and a few others, but no catch-up at all for ESPN, Cartoon Network and TNT. But wait, there is more: “AMC and IFC will have the 3-Day-Replay feature for select content,” a Sling TV spokesperson told me, adding: “We are looking to work with AMC Networks to expand this feature moving forward.”

Inconsistent catch-up rights notwithstanding, the addition of Epix, IFC and especially AMC could help Sling to win over more would-be cord cutters looking to ditch pay TV for a cheaper alternative. Mad Men and The Walking Dead are some of those appointment TV shows that fans try to watch as soon as they air in order to avoid spoilers. Getting access to them through a $20 plan does sound pretty reasonable, considering that buying individual episodes in HD would cost consumers $12 per month for a single show.

For a first look at Sling TV, check out my previously recorded video below:

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

Sling TV opens the floodgates, accepts sign-ups without invites

Sling TV, the online TV streaming service from Dish Networks, is now available to everyone: The service ended its invitation-only soft launch late Sunday night and began to accept sign-ups from everyone on its website.

Sling offers consumers live access to a total of 15 channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, CNN, HGTV, Cartoon Network and others for $20 a month. New to this basic package are Galavision, El Rey Network and a channel for Maker Studios content, which had been previously announced but initially wasn’t part of the invite-only beta test. AMC is going to be added to the base package soon, according to a Sling TV press release. There’s no word yet on whether Sling will also add other channels that are part of the AMC Networks family, including IFC, Sundance TV and WE TV.

Sling subscribers can elect to add more channels through three different add-on packages that cost $5 each. These include a news and information package, a kids and family package and a sports add-on package that offers access to additional ESPN channels and a few other sports networks. As of Monday, subscribers will also be able to use ESPN’s WatchESPN apps, but the content available to them will depend on their individual subscription: Sling TV’s base package unlocks ESPN1, ESPN2 and ESPN3 streams, whereas the added sports package will provide access to more content.

Sling TV is catering to cord cutters and what the company calls “cord haters,” meaning people who would love to get rid of cable but haven’t been able to in the past, primarily because of sports. Sling wants to win over this audience by offering them a lower-priced package without some of the strings that are usually attached with a traditional pay TV service. For example, Sling TV customers will be able to cancel any time, and don’t need commit to year-long contracts.

However, Sling TV couldn’t completely do away with the limitations of its industry. Some of the most advanced features of the service, which include the ability to rewind and fast forward in a current show or go back to any show that has aired within the last 72 hours, aren’t available on most networks due to contractual restrictions. In addition, Sling TV is only available on one single device at a time.

Check this video for a first look at Sling TV:

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

This post was updated at 9:33am with information about AMC coming to Sling TV.

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]

Sling gets two new boxes, sticks with an old idea

Sling Media is launching two new devices that iterate on its original proposition of place shifting, streaming your TV signal from your cable box to mobile devices and other screens. But how innovative is this, and how well does it really work?

SlingPlayer Mobile Arrives on the iPad

Sling Media ?today released? an iPad-specific version of its ?SlingPlayer Mobile? application. The app, like its iPhone counterpart, allows you to stream live TV from your set-top cable or satellite box to your iPad wirelessly so long as you have Slingbox hardware.

Vid-Biz: Viacom-YouTube, ITV Online, HBO

Viacom vs. YouTube Is a Microcosm of the Entertainment Industry; even as thousands of artists and labels are embracing the internet, the top management at the big labels are behind laws that could give their companies the power to shut down any tech firm that attempts to out-innovate them. (The Guardian)

ITV Online Sales Unclear, But Summer Web Investment Coming; ITV (LSE: ITV) is now hiding its quarterly online revenue in its combined Broadcasting & Online category, but says it is committing incremental investment in online over the second half. (paidContent:UK)

HBO on Your iPad? There Won’t Be an App for That; during his company’s earnings call, Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes batted back suggestions for an HBO iPad app. (MediaMemo)

NAB Sez Retransmission-Consent Regime is Working; in a meeting with FCC Republican commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, NAB representatives said programming costs are rising more slowly than other costs and can’t be blamed for rising cable rates. (Multichannel News)

SlingPlayer For Android Secretly Jumps Into Private Beta; Sling is sending out email invitations for a private beta of the Android app. (Phandroid)

blip.tv Announces Expansion of National and European Sales Teams; the web video firm hired Internet Works to represent it in the UK, and brought on Rafi Mamalian as its West Coast Sales Director and Phil Meier as its Midwest Sales Director. (blip.tv blog)

Chinese Consumers Surf the Internet While Watching TV; of the Chinese surveyed by Nielsen as part of its first “three screen” study there, nearly half — 44 percent — engaged in “simultaneous viewing.” (Nielsen blog)

Dish Places TV Everywhere With SlingLoaded DVR

Dish Network (s DISH) subscribers will soon be able to watch their TV anywhere through PCs and mobile phones, as the satellite TV provider is finally making Sling-enabled DVRs available to its customers, about a year after they were expected to ship. Dish will sell the ViP922 SlingLoaded DVR at a suggested retail price of $699, with leasing options also available to its customers.
The release of the Sling-enabled DVR has been a long time coming: the set-top box was first announced more than a year ago at CES. And its availability comes two and a half years after Echostar (s SATS) bought Sling Media for $380 million.
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