Slingbox maker Echostar is about to release a new box that takes over-the-air broadcast signals and streams them through Dish Network's (NASDAQ: DISH) Sling TV service.
According to tech blogger David Zatz, who uncovered the plan, the AirTV is essentially a Slingbox M1 with an OTA tuner inside. The device could push Dish's fledgling Sling TV service to the next level of consumer acceptance, adding major broadcast networks to an inexpensive skinny IP-based video service that's managed to catch on fast with consumers.
Sling just announced a new service tier that will stream the FOX Broadcasting Network. And it allows streaming access to ABC through an add-on package. Sling TV has also bundled OTA antennas to entice new subscribers.
The new Echostar device, however, would enable Sling TV users to add access to all of the major networks through local stations, along with Sling TV's solid list of top cable channels (ESPN, TNT, TBS, AMC, CNN, just to name a few).
Dish/Sling is tied to Echostar through Charlie Ergen, who is Chairman and CEO of the former and the largest shareholder of the latter.
While the Supreme Court famously struck down Aereo in its attempts to stream the broadcast nets two years ago, the AirTV seems to circumnavigate legal hurdles. For one, users rely on their own broadcast antenna. And the streams generated by the device go to a private consumer.
It's unclear at this point how Sling TV's interface would integrate the broadcast streams.
A Sling TV rep told FierceCable the company "can't comment about rumors and speculation."
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