Sling TV and its corporate parent Dish are getting close to releasing a new streaming device dubbed AirTV Player that will combine free over-the-air broadcast channels with Sling TV’s paid streaming service and Netflix programming, according to a new report from gadget blogger Dave Zatz.
The device could possibly allow Sling TV to spend less energy and money on negotiating carriage agreements with broadcast networks and their local affiliates across the country. But Dish may also market the device to expats as a way to access Sling TV’s international channels.
The AirTV Player is already featured on Sling TV’s website, promising “a single platform for watching Sling TV, Netflix, local channels, and more.” The device is based on Android, so it could conceivably also run TV apps from Hulu, Amazon and other online video services, even though it’s unclear whether some of these companies would want to cooperate with Sling TV. Hulu, for example, is readying its own live TV streaming service.
Dish had been working AirTV for some time, and even developed hardware at its corporate sibling EchoStar that would have allowed consumers to stream broadcast TV to any device, similar to the way Tablo’s hardware works.
The new device may complement these plans, or work as a standalone solution. Sling TV’s website doesn’t go into too many details about the technology behind the AirTV Player, but does mention the following: “OTA local channels require AirTV adapter and OTA antenna; both sold separately.”
There’s also a separate website for the device, which interestingly comes with a different pitch than Sling TV’s page for the hardware. “With AirTV Player, enjoy a large selection of TV packages from around the world,” AirTV declares, putting a big emphasis on access to Sling TV’s international programming. That’s an interesting pitch, especially given the fact that many expats buy customized Android streaming boxes pre-loaded with apps of questionable legality to access TV networks from their homeland.
Either way, it’s likely that Dish will reveal its true intentions for AirTV at CES in early January. A Sling TV spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.