February 23, 2016
Dish Network’s streaming service Sling TV just added support for streaming broadcast network ABC in select U.S. markets. Sling TV subscribers in metro regions, including Chicago, Fresno-Visalia, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, and San Francisco can add the $5/month “Broadcast Extra” bundle by calling the company, which has not officially announced the service. According to Dish, these markets represent more than half of the top 10 U.S. market areas, serving almost 25 percent of the population.
The addition of a broadcast network to Sling TV’s bundles is a bit of a surprise, notes TechCrunch, because, just this last fall, Sling TV chief executive Roger Lynch said that he wouldn’t be able to introduce broadcast networks “in the short term,” since networks were “hampered by their local affiliate agreements.”
TechCrunch reports Lynch even singled out ABC as being an example of why Sling TV couldn’t carry broadcast networks. Early viewers of the ABC stream report it emanates from their local ABC affiliate.
Other broadcast networks in Sling TV’s “Broadcast Extra” bundle are Spanish-language networks Univision and UniMas. Sling TV’s “Best of Live TV,” a $20/month subscription to a list of cable channels (including AMC, ESPN, Food Network, History, A&E, TNT, HGTV, IFC, TBS, Travel Channel, CNN, CN, Lifetime, Bloomberg, and others) is the main service. Viewers can add premium channels for an extra fee, such as HBO ($15/month) and Cinemax ($10/month).
Sling TV has company in streaming broadcast TV; Comcast’s Stream TV, and services from Time Warner Cable and Verizon also stream broadcast networks.
Sling TV is estimated by analysts to have about 400,000 customers, a number, says TechCrunch, that Dish uses “to pad the numbers” of its “bleeding subscriber base.” But Sling TV also suffers from uneven quality, with subscribers complaining about “pixelation, freezing, app crashes, and other glitches” that may be a more dominant factor to Sling TV’s fortunes than simply adding a broadcast channel.