Dish faces 2M subscriber cap for Sling TV, rebrands DishWorld

Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) agreed to content-provider demands to cap subscribers at 2 million for its new over-the-top service, Sling TV, a report says.

It has been known for some time that major programming networks participating in the Sling TV service mandated growth of the platform. However, a Friday report in AdAge is the first to put the 2 million number on the cap.

Programming networks are far more open to the idea of participating in OTT distribution these days--in fact, they feel mandated to do so. But they are still dipping their feet in carefully so as to not disturb core pay-TV products. 

The caps also apply to other "skinny" pay-TV products, such as traditional packages that have limited channel selections.

"They want it to be a complementary product and not a competing product that cannibalizes their core business," said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Geesha Ranganathan. "They don't want it to become too popular."

Meanwhile, Sling's capacity to deliver a high volume of simultaneous streams for a live event were tested over the weekend, when TNT, TBS and trueTV each presented the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament semi-final game between Kentucky and Wisconsin. Like Kentucky, Sling didn't pass muster, with Sling users complaining on Twitter in droves about poor streaming quality. 

Dish also used Twitter to issue an apology.

In other Sling news Dish announced that it's rebranding DishWorld, its over-the-top streaming service focused on international programming, as Sling International.

The move was anticipated, with Dish using the overseas programming platform to gestate its new mainstream OTT platform Sling TV.

With the rebrand, existing DishWorld customers will be asked to download and install a new app, which will transition them into the Sling TV infrastructure and interface. Their service will be accessible on the same device used for Sling TV--Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) Fire TV and Roku streaming boxes; Android and iOS mobile devices; Xbox One gaming consoles; and Macs and PCs.

Those legacy Dish World customers who use Samsung smart TVs to access the service will continue to use the DishWorld app.

Dish hasn't released the number of subscribers for DishWorld. Launched two years ago, the platform has provided the satellite operator gobs of useful data about OTT consumption habits. One of the things Dish found out is that the service's multinational customers didn't necessarily cancel their core pay-TV service after acquiring DishWorld.

"Sling TV grew from the foundation established by DishWorld, enabling us to test, grow and perfect our OTT capabilities through a service that streams tens of millions of hours of content every month," said Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV. "Incorporating DishWorld into the Sling TV portfolio makes it even easier for viewers to get the best of both domestic programming and the shows and sports they love from overseas."

For more:
- see this AdAge article
- see this Dish Network press release

Related links:
Sling TV to include HBO access starting with 'Game of Thrones' premiere
Dish inks new deals with Turner, HBO; reportedly allows Sling TV users to access premium network
Surprise: Sling TV's content deals don't include rights to all shows
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