Slingbox, a subsidiary of EchoStar, just released its M2 set-top box, priced at $199. The new set-top box enables viewers to watch live, pay TV and DVR content over the Internet, anywhere and from any device. The M2 adds functionalities not available in the M1, which debuted in 2014, including the ability to shift content from mobile devices to TVs via Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV or Roku. Users will also be able to download the Slingplayer app on each device for free; the trade-off is viewing short pre-roll ads.
The Slingbox M2 rolls out in a much more competitive environment, notes TechCrunch, including pay TV providers and TV networks rolling out their own apps and viewers who watch streaming video from such providers as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
Slingbox’s biggest advantage is to allow consumers to watch sports or other live events away from home. “Unlike TV shows and movies, which are plentiful across a variety of services, it’s far more challenging to find (legal) means of streaming the big game and other notable live events like the Academy Awards,” says TechCrunch, which reports that “live TV now accounts for 39 percent of all time spent watching TV content.”
Unlike other providers, Slingbox charges no monthly fee after the initial hardware purchase, and allows viewers to stream content from anywhere in the world, except where geo-blocking comes into play. Users can download the Slingplayer app to an unlimited number of devices; previously Slingbox charged $15 per device. Ads will appear in the app viewing window but not on top of the video. Those wanting to opt out of ads can pay a flat $15 per account.
Slingbox M2 is available at Best Buy, Amazon Marketplace and the Slingbox website.