Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) is enabling TV Everywhere access of the NBA Finals to Sling TV subscribers, as the operator continues to evolve the OTT service from a mere skinny programming package targeted to cord cutters to a full-fledged IP replacement product for traditional pay-TV services.
Starting tonight, select-market subscribers to the original, single-stream Sling TV service will receive a free preview of the Sling's "Broadcast Extra" add-on pack, which includes ABC, which is broadcasting the NBC Finals, as well as Univision and UniMás.
Existing customers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Fresno-Visalia and Raleigh-Durham will see the channels automatically added to their service. New customers will have to sign up for the trial.
The preview will extend the full length of the NBA Finals.
Notably, single-stream Sling customers will also be able to use their subscription to authenticate WatchESPN, which also is covering the seven-game series between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. (Game 2 is Saturday).
In a note to investors sent Thursday, Jefferies analyst Mike McCormack took note of the fact that Sling is looking more and more like a replacement for Dish's traditional satellite TV packages.
"Dish's long-term video strategy aims to capitalize on the shifting preference for streaming vs. traditional video," McCormack said. "While Sling was originally intended to target cord cutters and nevers, it appears the OTT service will now play a larger part in the future of Dish's video strategy. As millennials demand programming flexibility, mobility and a digitized experience, OTT packages will likely become more competitive with traditional offerings (enhanced user interface, DVR, SVOD, voice command). Notably, management indicated OTT growth could outpace linear video over the next three to five years, with Sling net adds offsetting declines in the linear video product."
Dish and Sling also announced today a long-term renewal agreement with Asia TV USA for India's "Zee" group of channels. In addition to renewing 10 Zee-branded channels, the deal will add 27 more outlets, including Living Foodz, Zee Bangla and Zee Cinema HD.
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