Sling TV Debuts Free Tier on Roku, Starts Selling Channels a la Carte

Dish’s internet TV service Sling TV launched a free promotional tier on Roku streaming devices Monday, which lets users watch some episodes even without signing up for an account. The company has plans to bring a similar tier to other streaming devices in the near future, a spokesperson confirmed.

Sling is rolling out free viewing on Roku in stages, and initially only making it available to select Roku users who haven’t sign up for the company’s paid service. These users have access to free episodes from shows including “Shameless,” “The Affair,” “Billions, “Ray Donovan,” “The Big Interview with Dan Rather” and more. In the future, Sling plans to extend these free options to all Roku users.

Users can also purchase tickets to pay-per-view events, including UFC fights, and rent individual movies. And there is an option subscribe to some individual channels, including Showtime, Stingray Karaoke, Curiosity Stream and Docurama, without the need to subscribe to a Sling TV base package.

Adding free content as well as standalone subscription channels are both interesting steps for Sling TV. Free episodes can obviously be promotional vehicles for Sling’s paid subscriptions, but a spokesperson also confirmed that some of the free content will be add-supported. This means that the company is effectively competing with other ad-supported streaming services, including Roku’s own Roku Channel.

What’s more, by giving users the ability to sign up for individual channels without the need for a base package, Sling is effectively getting into the subscription video marketplace business. This business has been dominated by Amazon and its Amazon Channels platform, which has become one of the most powerful resellers of standalone services from networks like HBO, Starz and Showtime. Just last month, Roku began reselling subscription services via its Roku Channel as well.