Dish Network Announces Web-Based Pay TV Service

Sling TV
Satellite TV provider Dish Network released details of its new Internet-only television service on Monday at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show.

The service is called Sling TV and the base package will cost $20 a month. That starter package will include ESPN, ESPN2, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Food Network, HGTV, TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Travel Channel, and a short-form "best of internet video" channel from Maker Studios.

There is no official launch date for the service, which will be available on XBox consoles, Roku players and branded TV models, Amazon Fore and Fire Stick as well as select LG and Samsung smart televisions. There will also be an app for both the Android and Apple iOS smartphones. But as of now, there won't be any Apple TV integration, due to what Sling refers to as "rigid user interface rules."

"Sling TV provides a viable alternative for live television to the millennial audience," said Dish’s president and CEO Joe Clayton in a statement announcing Sling TV. "This service gives millions of consumers a new consideration for pay-TV; Sling TV fills a void for an under-served audience."

There are a couple of caveats about the Sling TV service. The subscription can only be watched on one device at a time. The service is also pay-as-you-go, which means no two or three-year contracts as is often typical with traditional cable television subscriptions.

In fact, that ability to cancel your subscription at any time, combined with the ability to subscribe without using any cable box or other device is likely the most attractive feature for consumers unhappy with their current cable TV package.

Dish promises to keep the price of the base package at $20, which is an aggressive move since ESPN alone typically costs traditional cable providers around $6 per subscriber. The long-term future of ESPN on Sling might also be a question mark, since the sports network apparently insisted on a clause in its contract that would allow it to pull its channels if Sling crossed an unspecified threshold of subscribers.