Sling TV, which is owned by Dish, is trying to catch up to its competitors by adding new features like user profiles and promising more changes in 2023. Last week, just before the Consumer Electronics Show, the company started quietly rolling out the user profiles feature on Android TV and Fire TV devices. Soon, more platforms will be able to use it.
In the past few months, it has also added discovery+ to the 50 other services that are now available through Sling. This is part of its newer direct-to-consumer subscription integrations. It also added the Sports Scores feature to Roku, Fire TV, and Android TV devices.
Since last year, users have been getting Sports Scores, which makes it easier to check scores for NFL, college football, NBA, NHL, and MLB games while watching live TV or shows that you can watch whenever you want. Sling TV’s subscription lineup, which now has close to 50 channels, has been available since August of last year.
The changes, along with the rollout of user profiles (which hadn’t been officially announced yet), suggest that the streamer is once again trying to come up with new ways to get people to sign up.
Sling TV was one of the first big names in live TV streaming when it came out in 2015. However, as new services like Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV came out, it lost popularity. For example, Sling TV lost subscribers for the first three quarters of last year. But the company recently stopped this downward trend. In November, when it reported its Q3 2022 earnings, it said it had 2.41 million subscribers after adding 214,000 new ones. But this number is still less than the 2.6 million people who had signed up for Sling TV in the third quarter of 2021.
Sling TV needs to do more and do it more quickly.
TechCrunch interviewed Gary Schanman, Sling TV’s executive vice president and president, last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to find out what’s coming up for the service in the coming months.
Last year, Sling TV’s parent company, Dish, hired a veteran of the industry. This person has worked in pay TV at Spectrum, Charter, and Cablevision (now Altice USA), as well as in the streaming space. Schanman was most recently the chief product officer at Common Sense Networks, where he oversaw the launch of the streaming service Sensical that is safe for kids. Now, he wants to bring the Sling TV brand back to life.
The company is also thinking about how it can better meet the needs of different kinds of streamers in the coming year.
“Our main goal is to help people find, view, and interact with all the content they want. And we don’t mind that our customers come in many different forms and have different needs. And that includes people who keep paying for our service and sign up for all of our add-on packs. “But it could also be people who come in for a short time and want to watch free content,” Schanman said.
“Free is a part of how we think about our relationship with the customer. “We want a long-term relationship with the subscriber in which they find value in what we offer, and [free content is] a part of that,” he said.
Schanman couldn’t say for sure what plans Sling TV has for any kind of free streaming that might be coming.
But overall, the streaming industry has put a lot of effort in recent months into giving people free “live TV” channels, also called FAST channels. These channels show up in a grid-like guide that feels more like cable TV than ad-supported video on demand. Roku has added FAST channels to its Live TV Guide, as has Amazon with Freevee. Pluto TV, Xumo, and Plex also offer FAST channels. For some services, like Roku with its free movies and TV hub, The Roku Channel, the goal is to get customers’ attention with free streaming and then sell them paid streaming subscriptions. Consumer Top
Streaming media platforms like Roku and Amazon want people to use their own free streaming products, so if Sling TV did more free things, it could make its relationship with them harder.
Schanman thinks that Sling TV has other benefits, like being easy to use, in addition to its plans to improve its products. He also talked about how reliable the service was. After all, “Game of Thrones” hasn’t crashed its service in a long time. But what Sling TV calls simple could be seen by some as just the bare minimum.
Still, the company thinks that Sling TV’s biggest advantage is not necessarily how easy it is to use, but how it puts together affordable packages of shows. Today, the streamer sets itself apart with a la carte programming packages that start with a base subscription (such as Sling TV’s “Orange” or “Blue” packages) and then add on different channels. Rival services, on the other hand, tend to include a larger number of channels in one package, which forces subscribers to pay higher prices every time a new deal is made.
“When it comes to live TV, we still have the best deal on the market by a long shot. We also have more options than anyone else on the market. The truth is, I think we have a lot to offer that is good for the customer. Schanman said, “Most of our competitors are what I would call “true one-for-one cable replacements,” but in some cases they are more expensive.
He said that in the coming months, the company will talk more about how affordable Sling TV is. This message is right on time, as consumers are starting to feel the financial effects of having too many streaming options and are facing a market where live TV plans are often no longer cheaper than traditional cable TV.
“We begin with $40. So our ability to be flexible and give customers choices is a huge value in the market,” the executive said. “You can change packages whenever you want to. He said, “We have more than six add-on packs that, when added together, cost less than what you’d pay for YouTube TV or Hulu TV.” “The more choices consumers have, the more valuable our service is on the market, because everyone is competing for the same amount of money,” Schanman said.