CES: Dish Network's Sling TV Adds ESPN3, Unveils New Interface

Sling TV - H 2016
Courtesy of Dish Network

Sling TV - H 2016

Dish also announced the HopperGO, which stores DVR recordings for customers to watch on smartphones and tablets.

Dish Network announced Tuesday its Sling TV is getting a facelift just ahead of the streaming service's first anniversary. 

The satellite television giant, presenting at CES in Las Vegas, unveiled a new user interface for the $20-a-month over-the-top service. The new design creates a more personalized experience for subscribers that will adapt to each person's viewing preference, location, device and time of day. For example, it would offer news in the morning or kids programming in the afternoon. 

Sling TV also will add new navigation screens to promote its content, such as "My TV," where the most-viewed channels and shows will appear, or "On Now," based on what is currently airing live. 

In addition, Sling has added support for ESPN3, the digital network from ESPN that offers live and on-demand sporting events including college football and basketball, tennis and soccer. It will become available on Sling TV for no additional charge later this quarter. 

"ESPN3 isn't like a traditional cable channel," said Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch, noting that it offers up simultaneous live streams that aren't available on a cable channel that a user can watch on demand. "Try doing that on your cable box."  

Dish unveiled Sling TV at CES last year during a flashy event that included a band performance and an appearance from Hopper, Dish's kangaroo mascot. Essentially a skinny TV bundle for cord cutters, Sling's proposition is a small handful of channels at a lower cost than a monthly cable bill.

The service launched with ESPN, ESPN2, Food Network, HGTV, Disney Channel and others. It also offers add-on bundles for sports or kids programming for an additional $5 a month, and it includes support for HBO Now, or you can get HBO for an additional $15 a month.

"Only 64 percent of Millennial households subscribe to pay TV," said Lynch. "This generation doesn't understand, much less tolerate, many pay TV concepts and constraints." He added that Generation X households tend to be the ones that have already cut the cord, meaning that Sling TV is going after that audience as well. 

The Sling TV presentation was heavy on details about the content it offers and the types of people who are subscribing, but it did not include an update about the number of people who have signed up for the service. MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett estimated in November that Sling TV had around 394,000 subscribers at the end of the third quarter. 

Dish also showcased new versions of its Hopper DVR. The Hopper 3 can record up to 16 shows at the same time, even though CTO Vivek Khemka cracked that he couldn't think of 16 shows to record at the same time. It also offers 4K content options and integration with Netflix that makes the streamer's content available via the search and discovery functions.

Meanwhile, the HopperGO, a $99 pocket-sized device, makes it possible for cable subscribers to take their DVR recordings with them on the go. It stores up to 100 hours of recorded content for viewing on smartphones and tablets.