The higher pricing for Sling TV, a $5-per-month hike for both bundles, is effective for new customers starting Monday (Dec. 23). Existing customers will see the change on their next bill after Jan. 22, 2020. Sling TV also is raising the price of the Orange+Blue bundle, from $40 to $45 per month.
The price increases come as Sling TV expanded its live news offerings with the addition of Fox News, MSNBC and CNN’s HLN to the Sling Blue base service and now includes 10 hours of cloud DVR storage space for all Sling TV subscribers for no extra charge. The main differences between the two programming tiers is that Sling Blue includes Fox and NBC networks, while Sling Orange includes Disney and ESPN channels. However, Dish dropped the Fox sports regional networks from Sling TV in September, after the RSNs were acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Sling TV’s rate hikes come after Hulu kicked up the cost of its live TV service by 22% last month. In the past year, other OTT providers have also raised rates, including Google’s YouTube TV, AT&T’s AT&T Now (formerly DirecTV Now), and FuboTV — while Sony is shutting down PlayStation Vue at the end of January 2020.
Dish blamed content providers for the price hikes. “Sling doesn’t own the networks you watch—we have to pay programmers for their channels so that we can provide them to you, and the price of programming has been going up,” Warren Schlichting, EVP and group president of Dish’s Sling TV, said in a statement announcing the changes. “Unfortunately, we have to share those rising prices with you, so we can continue to provide you with the same great experience you’ve come to expect from Sling.
Sling had previously raised the price of the ESPN/Disney Sling Orange package from $20 to $25 per month, in June 2018. “Since we launched Sling TV in 2015, we’ve been committed to providing the shows, movies and sports you love at a fair value, and we still offer skinny bundles at a price you can’t get with cable,” Schlichting said.
In the U.S., Sling TV and Hulu With Live TV are the leading OTT television subscription services, both with about 2.7 million subscribers as of the end of the third quarter 2019, according to analyst estimates.
In other programming changes, Sling TV said it will launch Big Ten Network (BTN) ahead of the 2020-21 college football season. The service also will launch FXM and FXX, including the linear feed, to Sling Blue Hollywood Extra, and Nat Geo Wild is joining Sling Blue Heartland Extra.
Sling TV’s existing cloud DVR offering is now branded “Cloud DVR Plus,” providing up to 50 hours of storage for $5 extra per month. Sling TV subscribers can now record the majority of channels on the service — including Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, ESPN and ESPN2, which had previously been unavailable to record for DVR playback.