DISH Launches Internet-Only TV Service

DISH will soon offer an over-the-top Internet TV option, dubbed Sling TV, the company announced Monday at CES.

The base Internet TV package will include a host of popular channels including ESPN, ESPN2, Cartoon Network, ABC Family, Food Network, Disney Channel, TBS, HGTV, TNT, Travel Channel and CNN. Additional channel packages will be available for $5 each.

With trends moving to on-demand and contract-free access to content, DISH designed Sling TV as an alternative that uses a “come and go as you please” attitude toward contracts, according to Sling TV’s CEO Roger Lynch.

According to Lynch, the plan will not include DVR functionality, but subscribers will have access to a fair amount of on-demand content.

The inclusion of ESPN is a particularly interesting selling point for DISH. According to DISH CEO Joe Clayton, live sports are one of the features that people miss the most after cancelling their pay-TV subscription. Currently, the so-called cable cutters only have a few options for watching sports – the most common are watching games at a sports bar or at a friend’s house, both of which are inconvenient, making pay-TV decisions difficult for sports fans who pay for full service when they only want a few channels.

Sling TV will allow viewers to pay less for content they’re more likely to use, meaning that sports fans can pay $20 a month for access to games without having to pay extra for a bunch of content they don’t care about. While this doesn’t quite live up to the fabled menu-of-channels approach, it is significantly less expensive than an average bill for full pay-TV service.

DISH is also targeting younger audiences with its new Internet TV service, marketing Sling TV as a way to “take back TV.” DISH hopes to reel back millennials and other tech-savvy viewers who have switched from cable or satellite subscriptions to streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu Plus.

DISH is the first pay-TV provider and only satellite service to offer an Internet TV service, a move that helps keep it ahead of the curve in an industry that is constantly facing challenges from Internet-based content providers.