Sling TV adds EPIX to lineup, battles awareness problem among millennials

Sling TV has signed up its first premium channel: The over-the-top service announced a deal with EPIX to bring four of the network's channels to subscribers, along with 2,000 video-on-demand titles.

The addition is part of a renewal deal between EPIX and Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), Sling TV's parent company, Variety reports. EPIX itself is a joint venture between Viacom and Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and MGM.

EPIX, EPIX2, EPIX3 and EPIX Drive-In will be integrated into Sling TV in the near future, the OTT unit launched on Feb. 9 announced Monday. According to Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch, the service "will feature EPIX's linear channels and movies on-demand in an add-on package that is accessible and affordable."

Currently, Sling TV subscribers who want to watch movies or series on-demand must go to a desktop computer and rent or buy the title they want to watch. The service did not specify how EPIX add-on subscribers will be able to access the premium channel's on-demand content.

Sling TV also has a three-day on-demand viewing deal with a few of the networks that are already on the service, such as Cooking Channel, HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Travel Channel, Universal Sports, Univision, El Rey Network, Galavisión, Maker Studios, Baby TV and ducktv.

No word yet on whether other premium channels, like HBO and Showtime, will be added to Sling TV's corral, but the company has aggressively pursued more carriage deals in tandem with its efforts to make the OTT service available on more platforms. It quickly integrated several Univision channels into its core package and add-ons, and will integrate AMC Networks channels into the service in the near future.

Consumer reaction to Sling TV news on social media seems a bit tepid, and that may be to an awareness problem, Variety and Multichannel News reported. A survey conducted between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1 by Ipsos MediaCT of 2,871 consumers found that just 11 percent were aware of Sling TV, and 67 percent of those in the survey group between the ages of 18 and 34 said they weren't interested in the service.  Further, 44 percent of the survey respondents in that age group said they had confused Sling TV with Slingbox, a set-top product offered by EchoStar-owned Sling (which co-branded Sling TV with Dish Network, and also co-brands the Hopper set-top offered to Dish's traditional pay-TV subscribers).

With those issues in mind, Sling TV's amped-up marketing efforts and ambitious carriage deals are a strategy to not just win subscribers but to dispel any confusion between its service and Sling's hardware-based offerings.

For more:
- see the release
- and this blog post
- Variety has this story
- Multichannel News has this story

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