Dish 'desirous' about adding ESPN to new Sling TV multi-viewer tier

Discussing his company's strategy for its new Sling TV programming tier that lets more than one member of a subscriber home access the service simultaneously, Sling CEO Roger Lynch said adding the coveted ESPN would simply drive the cost of the service up too high.

"We couldn't put all the stream content into the multi-stream service and maintain our price point. You're just driving up the cost too much for those," Lynch told investors during parent company Dish Network's (NASDAQ: DISH) first-quarter earnings call Thursday, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

That doesn't mean it won't eventually happen.

"But we're desirous of putting ESPN in multi-stream, which will drive the price of multi-stream up," added Dish Chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen. "[Disney/ESPN] are our first OTT partner, so they get preferential treatment."

ESPN is an anchor channel on Sling's $20-a-month core service, which allows subscribers to stream to only one device at a time. However, Dish just launched a second $20-a-month tier that includes 21st Century Fox channels, including FOX Broadcasting and select regional sports networks, that lets users stream to multiple devices simultaneously. That new tier doesn't include ESPN.

Speaking more broadly though, Lynch says Sling wants to differentiate its program offerings in a way that traditional pay-TV has not.

"When we launched Sling TV, the main thing we were doing was market segmentation which the pay-TV industry really had never done because the structure of the industry is such that everyone basically has the same channels at similar costs, so you end up with similar packages and similar pricing," Lynch said. 

"I think what we do on Sling TV is segment the market and go after different segments," he added. "We did that with single-stream and we'll do that with multi-stream. What that mean is we won't put all the content that's in multi-stream into single-stream and just have the number of streams be the differentiator because you'd end up with packages that would cost too similar."

For more:
- read this Seeking Alpha transcript

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