Dish Network’s Sling TV remains the lowest priced full-feature virtual MVPD service, and one of the ways it has maintained that price point is by paying only a limited amount of its programming budget to broadcast retransmission licensing fees.
On Thursday, Sling TV announced yet another way its users can conveniently view their local channels free and over the air, rather than having them be part of the license Sling TV service offering.
Now, Sling TV subscribers who use 2020 LG smart TVs enabled with the webOS 5.0 operating system, and connected to an OTA antenna, can port their local channels directly into their Sling TV user interface. That means ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS appear alongside ESPN, CNN and the rest of the licensed cable channels carried in the Sling TV user interface.
With rival vMVPD’s including YouTube TV now priced at $65 a month and up, Sling TV has kept its two programming tiers “Sling Blue” and “Sling Orange,” priced at $30 a month.
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Orange comes with ESPN, but no local broadcast networks. Blue has NBC and FOX in select markets. It has a slightly different, more news- and less-sports focused selection of cable networks, with no ESPN. ABC is available on both tiers as a $5-a-month “broadcast extra” add-on.
CBS locals aren’t licensed at all by Sling TV.
If Sling were to license ubiquitous local access to the major broadcasters on all of its tiers as, say, YouTube TV has, its price point would be a lot closer to $65 a month than $30.
Dish and Sling have been working on porting OTA channels into the app environment for several years. Last year, for instance, they debuted the AirTV 2, a device that connects to an antenna and sits on the user’s WiFi network. Local channels are then accessed through app from network-situated devices ranging from iOS smart phones to Roku streaming boxes and sticks.
Roku, meanwhile, is doing something similar with its fast-developing live/linear program guide, surfacing OTA channels alongside licensed live/linear networks within the app’s guide.
“The best value in TV today is Sling TV plus free live locals,” said Jon Lin, VP of product for Sling TV. “We’re making it easier than ever to watch free local channels directly within the Sling TV app, making 2020 LG Smart televisions an amazing value for those who appreciate a quality viewing experience, live local programming and OTT content from Sling TV.”