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Dish Debuts AirTV Device to Bring Free Broadcast Television to Sling TV

Dish Network has officially unveiled its plan for delivering local TV channels to its Sling TV over-the-top internet TV service — with no retransmission deals required on its part.

The satcaster, in an announcement Tuesday timed for the 2017 CES trade show, launched AirTV Player, an Android-based streaming device with support for Ultra HD 4K video that lets Sling TV customers add free, live local broadcast stations into their guide using an external antenna.

When an over-the-air antenna (not included) is connected to the AirTV Player, the Sling TV channel guide includes local OTA channels. Viewers can watch the broadcast channels on the TV connected to the AirTV Player via HDMI and switch among OTA channels and Sling TV content without changing TV inputs.

Dish is selling the AirTV Player with the OTA AirTV Adapter for $129.99; a streaming-only version of the AirTV Player is available for $99.99. A standalone AirTV Adapter is available for $39.99 if consumers choose to add OTA integration at a later date. Purchase of the AirTV Player includes a $50 Sling TV credit, available to new and existing Sling TV users.

At launch, AirTV Player provides integrated support for Sling TV, Netflix and YouTube along with access to titles in the Google Play Store along with free local OTA channels. Dish has established AirTV as a subsidiary that is separate from its satellite TV business and Sling TV service.

Sling TV does offer local Fox and NBC owned-and-operated stations in certain markets with its $25 per month Sling Blue multistream service. But with AirTV, Sling TV users now have access to the entire range of over-the-air broadcast channels available in their areas, including local feeds of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, CW and others.

“Americans are rediscovering free local, over-the-air TV for sports, shows and news, particularly given how well OTA complements popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Sling TV and YouTube,” Mitch Weinraub, director of product development for AirTV, said in a statement. “AirTV’s new streaming device and antenna installation service again make getting your entertainment as easy as turning on the TV.” Weinraub previously was director of advanced video products for Dish.

The AirTV Player connects to dual-band Wi-Fi networks and includes a Bluetooth voice-enabled remote supplied by Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI). The remote features dedicated buttons for Sling TV, Netflix and Google Play Store, provides voice capabilities and can control power and volume on any connected TV or sound system using infrared signals.

With the launch of the OTA device, Dish has established a network of licensed and insured AirTV Pro Install technicians who can set up device with either an indoor or outdoor antenna solution, based on a customer’s location. The professional installation service is available to all consumers at AirTV.net, with or without the purchase of an AirTV Player. The AirTV Pro Install service uses Winegard FlatWave Amped indoor antennas and Televes DigiNova BOSS outdoor antennas. Standard one-room antenna installation, including the antenna, is available starting at $100 for an indoor antenna or $150 for an outdoor antenna.

Separately Tuesday, Dish’s Sling TV launched an “Optimized for Sling TV” certification program for devices and platforms that provide an “exceptional” experience for the OTT service. Those initially on the certified list include the new AirTV Player and Xiaomi’s Mi Box. Sling TV also is available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku players, Microsoft Xbox One, and Google Chromecast.

In addition, Dish announced a new skill for Amazon’s Alexa that gives customers the ability to control their TV using voice commands. Users can pair any generation of Hopper DVR with an Alexa device like the Echo or Echo Dot to speak commands like “Alexa, go to CNN.”

Finally, the satcaster unveiled Dish Music, a Hopper-based feature powered by DTS Play-Fi that gives customers with a Hopper 2 or Hopper 3 DVRs the ability to sync music throughout their home with one central control. Dish Music will be compatible with a music services including Pandora, iHeartRadio and Amazon, as well as personal libraries on mobile devices.

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