Sling Media, the video place-shifting pioneer, has stopped manufacturing Slingbox units, but will continue to sell Slingboxes that remain still in stock, Satellite Business News reported in its January 6 issue.
“That means that once the existing stock of the standalone streaming devices is sold, the only way consumers will be able to buy a unit is through various on-line outlets that represent retailer with remaining inventory,” the publication reported.
Sling Media did not deny that it has halted Slingbox manufacturing, but said that it continues to sell and support the products.
“We continue to sell Slingbox units and support our active community of Slingbox users. There are not any formal announcements to share at this time,” Mark N. Vena, vice president of worldwide marketing at Sling Media, said in a statement to Multichannel News.
Sling Media is selling its current flagship product, the M2, for $99.99, a discount of $100 from the MSRP when the product was introduced in 2015. Amazon and Best Buy are also selling the M2 online for $99.99.
Dish Network, Sling Media’s corporate cousin, continues to integrate Sling’s technology into satellite DVR recorders, Satellite Business News noted. For example, Dish’s Hopper 3, a 4K-capable box launched last year, uses Sling Media’s place-shifting technology, which enables users to watch live and recorded programming on the go from Web browsers and apps for smartphones and tablets.
The report comes amid the rise of virtual MVPDs such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now alongside the ongoing expansion and adoption of authenticated TV Everywhere apps that increasingly remove the need for consumers to use a retail device such as the Slingbox to access their subscriptions on multiple devices when they are in or out of the home.
EchoStar, now the technology and set-top subsidiary of Dish, acquired Sling Media in 2007 for $380 million. Prior to that, Sling Media set the stage for video place-shifting with its entrance at the 2005 CES confab and the introduction of the original Slingbox. Sling Media co-founder and serial entrepreneur Blake Krikorian died last August at the age of 48.
Sling Media has not disclosed Slingbox sales figures, though Satellite Business News estimates that about 2 million standalone Slingbox units have been sold since 2005. An industry source said that sales figure is low, but also said that small subset of the Slingbox sales base are actually using the devices.
Sling Media tried to target the Slingbox to mainstream consumers with the M2, which removed the need for users to buy the mobile apps for tablets and smartphones that support it, but supplemented that part of the business through the controversial use of advertising. Those users also have the option of avoiding ads on the mobile apps by purchasing the apps separately.
In 2014, Sling Media took aim at the limitations of TV Everywhere and tried to amp up retail sales with a humorous ad campaign that offered a cure for a made-up condition called “Can’t Watch Anywhere Pain” or C.W.A.P.
EchoStar, Sling Media’s parent company, has shown a recent willingness to change gears with respect to retail products that don’t fit its long-term business aims. For example, EchoStar last fall shut down Sage By Hughes, a short-lived do-it-yourself home security and automation service, after the product had trouble gaining traction amid competition from other retail products as well as smart home products and services sold through providers such as ADT, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.
Coincidentally, an earlier version of the AirTV Player, a new device that enables users to blend OTT content with over-the-air broadcast TV signals from a Dish DBS Corp. subsidiary called AirTV LLC, used the Slingbox M1/M2 form factor. The AirTV Player, introduced last week at CES, emerged with a new design developed in partnership with Technicolor.