Arris Deal Gives Sling Another Shot at Cable

PITCHES SLING-LOADED MEDIA STREAMER
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EchoStar Technologies shut down its U.S. cable set-top subsidiary last year after it failed to gain market traction, but a new deal between major cable supplier Arris and EchoStar subsidiary Sling Media could rekindle its hopes of landing business with operators here and abroad.

This new angle will focus on Sling Media’s place-shifting technology, made popular by standalone retail Slingboxes and, more recently, as a new feature in Dish Networks’ line of Hopper HD-DVRs.

Under a partnership announced last week, Arris will launch a new “Sling-capable” device, called the Media Streamer 4000, that will work in tandem with the Arris MG5000 media gateway. The new Slingloaded sidecar will support up to four simultaneous HD streams and be capable of delivering both live TV and recorded content from the primary gateway to PCs, smartphones and tablets hanging off the home Wi-Fi network or outside the home. Operators likely will not activate the out-of-home capabilities unless they have secured mobile and digital rights with programmers.

The Media Streamer 4000 will also feature a new version of Arris’ Moxi user interface and work with the company’s Moxi mobile app for iOS and Android devices, and with the Arris Services Portal.

Arris hasn’t announced any deployment deals for the combo, but it expects to offer the new Sling-loaded option by the first quarter of 2014. Arris has been showing off the Media Streamer 4000 at the IBC Conference in Amsterdam, which wraps up on Sept. 17.

“The MS4000 is a strategic addition to our evolving follow-me TV portfolio that empowers service providers to keep pace with consumer demand,” John Burke, senior vice president of corporate strategy and development for Arris’ Cloud Solutions unit, said in a statement. “The MS4000 combines our joint expertise with the popular Whole Home Solution platform to bring full-featured media streaming solutions to the global stage.”

The new Sling-based option comes into play as Arris prepares to essentially retire the Televation, a single-stream video transcoding sidecar with an onboard CableCard originally co-developed by Motorola and Comcast. Comcast has used that device, rebranded as AnyPlay, to enable customers to deliver live TV to IP-connected devices in the home. Multiple industry sources have said the Televation can add out-of-home streaming with a firmware upgrade.

TAKEAWAY

A deal with Arris could give EchoStar a second chance at making a push into the U.S. cable equipment market.

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