Dish aggressively pushes OTA agenda with whole-home AirTV solution

Dish Network has extended its AirTV product line with a new device that makes OTA channels accessible to Wi-Fi-connected devices all over the home. (Dish Network)

UPDATED: This article has been updated to correct and clarify the functionality of Dish Network's new AirTV device. 

After introducing its AirTV player device that blends over-the-air broadcast television with its Sling TV vMVPD, Netflix and other streaming apps, Dish Network has launched a Wi-Fi-centric device that extends the AirTV environment to the whole home. 

The new $119.99 AirTV iteration can be placed anywhere in the home that has particularly good reception of over-the-air broadcast networks. The device essentially connects an OTA antenna to the user's Wi-Fi network. This allows the user to watch the combination of local broadcast channels, Sling TV, Netflix and other video apps obtained via Google Play on devices around the home including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and iOS and Android phones and tablets, using the AirTV app. 

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"Our new AirTV solution solves two problems: First, it blends free local channels with OTT television, something customers have demanded since the advent of streaming," said Mitch Weinraub, director of product development for AirTV. "And, because it's a Wi-Fi-enabled device, you can power your entire home with one OTA antenna, simplifying the installation process."

RELATED: Sling TV chief says OTA antennas are the cure to retransmission blues

Last week at Fierce’s Pay TV Show in Denver, Warren Schlichting, group president of Sling TV, presented a simple solution to the problem of rising retransmission fees: Don’t pay them, and incorporate free OTA signals instead.

Schlichting said retrans totaled $215 million in 2006 and rose to $7.7 billion by 2016. By 2017, he said it totaled $10.93 billion, indicative of what he called “incredibly aggressive retrans fee hikes.”

At the same time, pay-TV subscribers are declining, so Schlichting said lower demand should mean lower prices, but it doesn’t. And that results in providers having to raise prices.

“With every price increase we push more subscribers away,” Schlichting said.

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