For would-be cord-cutters — watching television online or over the air with no separate cable or satellite subscription — viewing live sports has been the Holy Grail.
Until now: Dish Network Corp. on Monday unveiled an Internet-only subscription offering that includes ESPN.
Dish will offer a package of channels, including ESPN, ESPN2 and CNN, starting at $20 a month. The availability of ESPN as part of the Internet package addresses a major reason people were loath to “cut the cord” — live sports. NFL games on ESPN will be blocked on mobile devices, however, because Verizon has those rights.
ESPN’s recent broadcasts of the College Football Playoff semifinals — Oregon’s win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl and Ohio State’s victory over Alabama in the Sugar — were the highest-rated cable television programs of all time.
The company said it isn’t worried that its current subscribers will cancel satellite service in favor of the cheaper Internet package. Rather, Dish is hoping to lure those who don’t pay for TV channels at all because they find it too expensive.
“A lot of big incumbents don’t like change, but everything else is changing around you,” says Joe Clayton, Dish’s CEO. “Technology is broadening the consumer viewing opportunity, and they are taking advantage of that.”
The Dish offering, dubbed Sling TV, will launch in a few weeks and also include channels from Disney, Scripps and Time Warner’s Turner. About 20 channels will be available, such as the Disney Channel, ABC Family, the Food Network, HGTV, the Travel Channel, TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network.
Sling TV is not to be confused with the SlingTV device that allows viewers to watch TV remotely. Sling Media, the maker of that device, is owned by EchoStar Corp., which was spun off from Dish in 2008.
Dish will offer various add-ons for $5 each, including extra channels for sports. But only one person can watch at a time. Family members who want to watch different channels simultaneously will need separate subscriptions.