Media & Services > TV & Media Blog



Has Sling Been Tivo’ed?

by David Mercer | Sep 25, 2007

Following Sling's recent deal to distribute its Slingbox through UPC, the pan-European cable operator, announced at IBC, I drafted a comment that Sling could end up getting Tivo'ed. By which I meant that while Tivo started out as a disruptive force, it has depended on operator partners for its survival. Those partners' primary interests lie in maintaining a strong vertical relationship with their customer base, and reducing technology partners to vendor status. Sling also started out as a maverick independent, but deals with UPC and other distributors risk jeopardising its disruptive potential. So news that Sling is to be acquired by Echostar only intensifies those concerns. How disruptive can Sling be when it is owned by a major distribution partner of Hollywood? You can hardly blame Sling's founders for taking the money, and if they had a choice of similar partners, EchoStar was a good one. Charlie Ergen's outfit is as close to the maverick end of the scale as a Hollywood partner can be, but that ain't very close... According to EchoStar: "EchoStar has been pleased with the progress and commitment the company has made establishing Sling Media and the Slingbox as powerful and beloved digital media brands. EchoStar’s acquisition of Sling Media will allow us to offer innovative and convenient ways for our customers to enjoy their programming on more displays and locations, including TVs, computers and mobile phones, both inside and outside of the home. This combination paves the way for the development of a host of new innovative products and services for our subscribers, new digital media consumers and strategic partners." The sting is in the tail. It's not a question that Sling can be good for Echostar - it will allow the firm to offer new TV and web-based services. And it will put pressure on DirecTV and the US cable companies to address their own place-shifting strategies more urgently. But the interest centres on EchoStar/Sling's international strategy and partner relationships. I hope to have more by the end of the week, after Sling's press event in London on Thursday. Add to Technorati Favorites
Previous Post: Microsoft launches Silverlight | Next Post: Realism finally descends on Italy’s digital plans
Leave a comment