Sling TV, the internet-streaming division of Dish Network, is doubling down on free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) and free, ad-supported VOD — looking to beef up its offering for consumers who balk at paying a monthly subscription fee.
The redubbed Sling Freestream is launching with 210 free channels and 41,000-plus on-demand titles. It’s a rebranding — and expansion— of Sling Free, which has been its free, live TV streaming service with some 150 channels and AVOD selections. In addition, Sling Freestream users can subscribe to more than 50 standalone streaming services, including AMC+, Discovery+, MGM+ and Paramount’s Showtime.
With Freestream, Sling is trying to lower the barrier to entry even further, by eliminating the requirement that users create an account to be able to start streaming free content. And by the end of this spring, Sling Freestream is on track to offer more than 400 channels, said Gary Schanman, group president of Sling TV. “It’s a large expansion of the offering,” he said.
The move comes after Sling TV last fall raised the prices on its stripped-down internet pay-TV services, bumping up both packages (Sling Orange and Sling Blue) by $5 to $40/month. As of the end of the third quarter of 2022, Sling TV had 2.41 million paid subscribers, down 6% from a year prior but a sequential increase of about 214,000.
Sling’s expanded FAST and AVOD tier will serve as an on-ramp for consumers who want to subscribe to its pay-TV packages — as well as an off-ramp for those canceling their paid service so Sling can retain them as viewers, Schanman said. “We know some people want free content, some may want a year-round paid subscription, while others may want to subscribe for certain events or shows,” he said.
The Sling Freestream content lineup includes: AMC’s The Walking Dead Universe; ABC News Live; Architectural Digest’s “Open Door”; “Family Feud” (Buzzr); CBS News; Cheddar News’ “Wake Up with Cheddar”; ESPN On Demand; ESR; Electric Now; FailArmy; “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Heartland,” and “Forensic Files” (FilmRise); Maverick Black Cinema’s “Boxed In” and “Dilemma”; GoTraveler; Rick Steves Europe; Anthony Bourdain’s “A Cook’s Tour”; the Pet Collective, and VH1 I Love Reality. Freestream also offers international programming in nine languages, such as AajTak International, DesiPlay, Noticias Univision 24/7, ARY News, France24, beIN Sports Xtra, SonyKal, TVP World, Al Jazeera English and Al Arabiya.
Freestream is available through the Sling app on Roku devices, and is rolling out across LG, Samsung and Vizio devices and all Sling-supported devices over the next few months. According to the company, future Sling Freestream features on the road map include universal search functionality, updated guide filters and autoplay capabilities.