Slingbox set for Mideast, Eastern Europe

But 70% use remote TV streaming device within the home

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CANNES -- Users across the globe can now sling their favorite TV shows from wherever they are, as remote access TV powerhouse Sling Media takes consumers on a world tour, but viewers prefer to watch in the comfort of their own homes, according to figures released from Sling Media on Wednesday.

Some 70% of consumers claim that their primary use for their Slingbox is within the home, up from 40% just two years ago according to Sling Media's vp EMEA Stuart Collingwood.

After launching in 15 countries across Europe last year and on iPhone just a couple of weeks ago, Sling Media plans to roll out to the Middle East and Eastern Europe within the next year.

While TiVo rose to fame for its time-shifting capabilities, Sling Media is honing its play-shifting capabilities to change the way consumers access TV, with sales to more than 20 countries across the globe and continuous additions of services and software to emerging operators.

While Sling Media refuses to release sales figures for the time being, Collingwood said the company now boasts hundreds of thousands of viewers across the world, though it hasn't quite passed the million user mark.

Collingwood attributes the rapidly increasing ubiquity of the Slingbox technology to its facility and simplicity. "If you give people the tools to make it easy to use, then they'll use it," Collingwood said.

Sling Media launched its iphone software in Europe and has already seen strong sales "from Finland to Israel" according to Collingwood.

The company is also targeting consumers with its Slingbox.com web-based interface for subscribers, while catering to industry pros on its more professional site Slingmedia.com.

However, despite Sling Media's obvious attraction to consumers on the go, content providers and local broadcasters aren't enthusiastic. If consumers are watching programming on their Slingboxes, that means they're not watching the shows when they air in local markets or paying to download them from VOD portals.

"At the moment, the Slingbox is a specialized tool. It seems reasonable, but it undermines the international matrix of product distribution," ABC Disney's evp and managing director of Europe, Middle East, Africa and Canada Stephen Moore said in an interview, but added: "The positive message in all this is that where there's a void, we need to fill that gap with on-demand services."

Plus, Collingwood points out that: "Most operators deep down think we're good for business." He added: "Customers are less likely to cancel their pay TV subscriptions if they have Slingbox. Operators are open to finding new ways to get integrated into our services." The company does have deals with ViaSat and UPC and isn't opposed to future deals with worldwide cable operators.

Sling Media is also actively working to protect copyright when it can. For example, remote access viewing is only allowed via one portal at a time. "It protects the rights of the studio," Collingwood explained.
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