Dish Network, the satellite provider, is trying to lure younger viewers back to paying for television with the start of a Web-based offering that includes ESPN and several other popular networks for $20 a month, about a fifth the cost of the average household bill for cable and satellite service.
Announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday, the new service is called Sling TV, and it provides live and on-demand television delivered by Internet connection to television sets, computers and mobile devices.
Dish executives said the service was cheaper and more convenient than traditional cable service. And they boasted that it delivered more choices for viewers looking to pay for a slimmed-down group of television networks and programs they want to watch, as well as more options as to when, where and how they want to watch them.
“It is the launch of a whole new industry here,” Joseph Clayton, Dish’s chief executive, said in an interview. “We are innovators. We are disrupters. We don’t always make people happy because we challenge the status quo.”
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Sling TV is part of a growing wave of offerings expected from tech, telecom and media companies in the coming year, posing a threat to the established television business, which takes in $170 billion a year. Meanwhile, the streaming outlets of Amazon, Hulu and Netflix continue to pour resources into developing more robust offerings. Sony, CBS and HBO and others, also, are starting Internet-only subscription offerings.
The companies are trying stay relevant while the a growing number of “cord cutters,” who have canceled their cable or satellite packages in favor of cheaper streaming alternatives, and “cord nevers,” who have never paid for a traditional cable service. The number of American households that pay for broadband service but not television increased 16 percent, to 10.6 million, in 2014, from 9.2 million in 2012, according to SNL Kagan.
Viewers are also spending more time watching streaming video. Roku, which sells popular streaming devices, said that more than 3 billion hours of content were streamed via its devices in 2014, nearly double the amount in 2013.
Dish executives said the new service would not cannibalize the company’s current business because its current offerings do not appeal to Sling TV’s target audience of 18- to 35-year-olds.
“We are not hitting the 18-to-35-year-old market today; we just aren’t,” Clayton said, adding that he knows from experience with five children ages 18 to 28.
While the Sling TV service does not allow subscribers to pick and choose specific networks, it offer a less expensive version of the typical cable bundle with 12 of some of the most popular cable networks available at the start. Those networks include ESPN, the Disney Channel, Food Network, HGTV, TNT, TBS and CNN. The Maker Studios network of YouTube stars also will be included. Not included are broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.
Clayton said that including sports in the package was essential for an offering aimed at younger adults. Some analysts have said that one of the major reasons people hold on to their cable packages is so that they can continue to watch sports.
Sling TV subscribers also will be able to buy add-on packages for specific genres of programming, like children’s shows and news. Dish executives said Sling TV would complement streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.