Dish Network $9 per month offer

The “I Like 9” promotion that got me to give Dish Network a try.

Sling TV has been around since January 2015, and I’ve been a subscriber almost from the day I saw it launched at CES. As good as it was then, it continues to add new channels and options. I was reminded of that yesterday when Sling added NBC’s Olympic Channel to its Sports Extra package. And that’s when it hit me – my experience with Sling now matches my first years as a Dish Network subscriber starting in 2001.

Back then, I was lured by the low price of just $9 a month for America’s Top 100, although I paid an extra $10 to reach the next tier. The package didn’t include local channels, but I could kludge together an over-the-air antenna that straddled the dish with a special splitter to pipe the signals from my roof.

A special monthly treat was the Charlie Chat featuring the folksy persona of CEO Charlie Ergen. In those first years, Ergen would frequently announce the addition of what the business called a “digital cable” channel, something of such narrow interest that it couldn’t break into the standard 36-channel analog cable lineup. There were VH1 Classic, Nick Games and Sports, Tech TV, and so many more.

Now I feel the same about Sling. Just like those early days of Dish, it doesn’t have most of my locals, but I’m used to getting them elsewhere. The price is just as cheap, relatively speaking. It carries some funky channels such as Cheddar, Stadium, and Tribeca Shortlist that aren’t available on Dish. And the What’s On Sling blog is the modern version of the Charlie Chat, dispensing highlights, free previews, and channel announcements.

Dish has done pretty well for itself for quite a while. I hope that Sling shows similar staying power.

 

Sling TV has added Samsung smart TVs to its list of supported devices. Jeff Baumgartner writes that it’s available now on all 2016 Samsung smart TV models, and will reach other Samsung models later. Sling is now available on LG connected TVs, Android TV devices (including the Dish-made AirTV Player), Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, some web browsers, the DVR+, and iOS and Android mobile devices. I’m still waiting for Sling to be available on Linux, a natural OS for cord-cutters.

John Eggerton, the hardest working man in Washington, writes that more strange bedfellows have come together to fight the proposed Sinclair-Tribune merger. Those new members are the United Church of Christ, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians – Communications Workers of America, the Parents Television Council, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Herndon-Reston Indivisible, and the Leased Access Programmers Association. It seems that there are plenty of reasons to not like the deal, and each organization only needs one. For more on the latest, you should go read it!

Lool IPTV box with antennas

The “2017 LOOL Arabic Gold IPTV Box,” as currently advertised on eBay

Dish Network and NagraStar shut down a different kind of pirate this week. According to Advanced Television, the two won a court order against Lool Tech Co. and a partner over the Lool IPTV box, which streamed mostly Arabic channels.

Dish and Nagra had been on a tear, picking off distributors and even end users of the NFPS IKS service, which streamed pay-TV channels that apparently originated from Dish. But Lool looks like it’s different. Lool boasts over 700 Arabic channels, which is more than Dish handles, so at least some of them must be from other sources. The Advanced Television story mentioned instead that “the Lool defendants retransmitted channels in which DISH holds exclusive rights”.

This reminds me a lot more of our dear departed NimbleTV, which was built with the goal of facilitating overseas pay-TV subscriptions to be viewed in the US. Every channel was paid for by the US subscriber, but Dish really didn’t like it, and Nimble soon shut down. Dish has the US rights to certain foreign channels, so there’s no good way to provide them otherwise.

There are still web sites such as wwiTV.com that provide links to hundreds of IP-delivered channels, originating all over the world. I guess it’s when you build them into a box or sell them as a service that Dish thinks you’ve gone too far.

According to an article in Bloomberg today, the “live and on demand video news network” Cheddar plans to give away small over-the-air UHF antennas. Cheddar is renting broadcast space from DTV America in five markets and will partner with advertiser Dunkin Donuts to give away antennas in those markets.

Jon Steinberg, founder of Cheddar, said that the number of broadcast-only homes is rising. “Anywhere we can provide a stream that replicates that cable news viewing experience is where we’re going to be,” he said.

Cheddar’s eight-hour programming day is available on Sling TV and as a separate app. “It also has a second feed — two to three hours a day of original content plus archived programming — that’s carried on Facebook and will air on the broadcast stations.”

It’s great to see another entry into the universe of digital sub-channels. I hope that more OTA choices will lead to more OTA viewers, which then lead to more OTA choices.

Air TV channel guide window

Now on Air TV, the OTA channels begin to the right of where the Sling TV channels end.

As I wrote when I first received my AirTV a couple of months ago, it came without all of the functionality that I saw at its demo at CES. Over-the-air channels were pushed aside, not integrated, and it took several clicks just to get over to them.

It’s taken a long time, even longer than promised, but AirTV has fixed the problem. I suspect the delay may have had something to do with a change in direction; instead of choosing a few favorite OTA channels to join the Sling TV crowd, they’re all integrated in the same channel guide bar complete with logos.

AirTV is still without a DVR, although Sling offers a lot of on-demand programming from its networks. With my Sling app on my Android phone and tablet, I can record most OTT network programs, but there’s no OTA channel support. I’m guessing it’ll be a long time before Sling/Air can straddle that divide, all the more reason to keep my Tablo and Channel Master DVR+ around.