Sling TV offers free news and entertainment
The Dish-owned streaming service is once again experimenting with a free tier.
The streaming platform Sling has announced that it will be offering access to news and entertainment for free for those homebound during the coronavirus pandemic. The platform has introduced “Stay in & SLING!,” an initiative that offers basic Sling service without the need of a Sling account.
The free service, available from the Sling website as well from the Sling TV app on Android, iOS, Chrome and Roku, plays live TV from ABC News Live, FOX News and Cheddar, as well as FOX affiliates in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. The service also offers movies and television series on demand, such as “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Rick and Morty” and “Kitchen Nightmares,” and international programming such as Al Arabiya, Mapa Mundi and TV5MONDE.
“To stay informed in these uncertain times, Americans need access to news from reputable sources,” Warren Schlichting, group president of Sling TV, said in an announcement. “With many Americans finding themselves staying at home, we have an opportunity to use our platform to help them deal with this rapidly evolving situation.”
FOX News joined “Stay In & SLING!” less than 24 hours after the initiative launched. “‘Stay in & SLING!’ has been live for less than 24 hours, and we’ve already received a tremendous response as we put our platform to work providing American families with much needed free access to breaking news and entertainment,” Schlichting added.
The Dish Network-owned streaming service is also promoting its paid content, teasing shows and channels in the “Stay in & SLING!” menu to convince some users to sign up for a package. These “bait” programs are marked with a yellow “Subscribe” button. The service also displays an enticement to sign up on the top of the web-based interface. To sweeten the deal, Sling is currently offering $10 off the first month of its Sling Blue package. Sling Blue, the larger of the two Sling packages, offers over 50 live channels and 10 hours of cloud DVR, normally for $30 per month.
Competition in streaming TV
This is not the first time Sling experimented with a free tier. Previous iterations of Sling Free have consisted only of a small selection of on-demand programming. This attempt, postured so that Americans would have the tools to stay informed about the coronavirus pandemic, is significantly larger and more ambitious.
The company may have been enticed into trying again after receiving its first-ever declining subscribers tally for the fourth-quarter of 2019. Sling dropped 94,000 customers to end the year with a subscriber base of 2.59 million. Competition from Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, Disney+ and Apple TV +, plus an increase in the subscription price, likely were to blame for the drop in subscribers.
Sling will be facing steep competition for viewers’ eyes during the pandemic. Disney+ has acquired “Frozen II” three months ahead of schedule, Hulu has released the first three seasons of “Little Fires Everywhere” and NBC/Universal has canceled its current theatrical slate so that its current in-theaters movies can be seen on pay-per-view.