While Sling TV was the first vMVPD to market and has amassed the sector’s biggest subscription base at 2.21 million, research firm Strategy Analytics believes AT&T’s DirecTV Now could soon overtake the Dish Network streaming platform.
DirecTV Now added 1 million users in 2017 vs. just 700,000 for Sling TV, Strategy Analytics noted in a report analyzing the future of the latter.
“While first-to-market has had its advantages for Sling TV, DirecTV Now had a more impressive gain of subscribers in 2017,” the research firm noted.
The faster 2017 growth for DirecTV Now shows two things, Strategy Analytics said: “Sling TV could potentially be overtaken by DirecTV Now, and this is clearly a new space that is taking off with U.S. consumers as they look to spend less on their TV-based entertainment.”
The research firm, however, said that Sling TV, overall, has a lot of advantages.
“Sling TV offers a very close resemblance to traditional pay TV by providing a grid DVR, DVR recording options and management, parental controls, and closed captioning options & customization.” This similarity with traditional services is actually coveted by the market, Strategy Analytics added.
An industry-low base price of $20 a month and wide assortment of player options also work in Sling’s favor.
Strategy Analytics’ main quibble with Sling TV is that it’s not focused enough on mobile.
“While live TV streaming services like Sling TV are not prioritized as being mobile, with smartphones continuing to expand actual display real estate size, along with faster data speeds and improved video displays, smartphones should be prominently marketed as an alternative screen for not just on the go, but while others may be occupying a TV,” the research firm said.
“Particularly with 5G, there is a rejuvenated focus on mobile viewing from companies like Facebook, Snapchat, and mobile operators like Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile. Live streaming TV will also be an important part of this evolution,” the report added.