In the United States, more and more television programming has become available for streaming online thanks to names like Hulu, Amazon and many of the TV networks themselves, but being able to watch live television and events like sports and live news online has remained elusive for cord cutters. Dish took a big move towards changing that here at CES 2015, announcing the launch of Sling TV to deliver live channels to connected devices like Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Xbox and others.
Sling TV will launch sometime in the first quarter of this year nationwide with a US$20 per month subscription service that the company says will not require a contract, commitment or new hardware, much like Hulu Plus and other streaming subscription services. But in addition to video-on-demand offerings that we've become accustomed to through Hulu, Netflix and others, Sling's core package includes live streaming of ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN.
Additional channel packages for extra kids or news and information channels will be available for $5 more each and Dish says a "sports extra" package is also in the works.
With a subscription, Sling TV users should be able to watch live TV on mobile devices via iOS and Android apps, through a browser via Sling's website or direct to a big screen through Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Google’s Nexus Player, select LG and Samsung Smart TVs, Roku players and TVs and Xbox One.
Sling TV can be paused, rewound and fast-forwarded on most live channels. Some channels will also allow for a "3-day replay" feature to watch live shows aired in the past 3 days without a DVR.
Sling TV could be a major blow to powerful cable companies in the United States that have long had the exclusive rights to distribute popular live sports and news channels. As many Americans have increasingly looked to streaming services for content from the television networks, popular channels like HBO, ESPN and CNN have remained almost impossible to access without a cable or satellite subscription.
Dish, itself a major satellite provider facing a downward trend in satellite TV subscriptions, has been competing aggressively in recent years for Americans' TV time with new DVRs and other products and services.
The announcement of Sling TV follows recent news last year that major networks CBS and HBO plan to offer online-only subscriptions that don't require a separate account with a cable provider.
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