Impact: Eight years after TiVo began to popularize the concept of time-shifting TV shows (and skipping ads), Krikorian’s Silicon Valley startup introduced the notion of place-shifting. With a $149 Slingbox, consumers can essentially have their home TV programming “forwarded” to anywhere in the world via the Internet, where they can use a laptop or mobile phone to tune in.
The concept caught the fancy of Charlie Ergen and EchoStar Communications, which made an early investment in SlingMedia before buying the whole company last September for $380 million. This year, Krikorian says he’ll start selling a product that was first announced at last year’s CES (and which was slated to go on sale several months ago): the $200 SlingCatcher. The device enables content from a Slingbox in the living room — for example, a TV episode recorded on a DVR — to be beamed to a TV screen elsewhere in the house.
Krikorian also wants to enable users who view TV content on a computer to send clips to friends. He envisions that as a kind of viral marketing medium for TV shows. EchoStar may cleave itself in two this year, separating its Dish Network satellite service from its technology operations. That could enable Sling to deploy its technology not just through Dish but other telcos and cable carriers.
POV: “Before, we were all about making the access to content more ubiquitous,” Krikorian says. “Now, we’re going to make it a more social experience.”