Market Insight

CES 2017: Sling Launches AirTV Hybrid OTT Total Cord-cutting Proposition for Consumers

January 17, 2017  | Subscribers Only

Paul Erickson Paul Erickson Senior Research Analyst, Service Provider Technology

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During the 2017 CES, Sling announced the $99 Android TV-powered AirTV streaming set-top box for consumers, with an optional $39 USB OTA tuner for live TV viewing. The two are available together as a $129 package, with a $50 credit towards Sling TV service. Sling is also offering an installation service for those needing assistance with installing an antenna for OTA reception, for $100 for indoor and $150 for outdoor installations.

AirTV features dual-band Wi-Fi, 4K streaming capability, and utilizes a customized Android TV interface that focuses on Sling TV, OTA content, and Netflix. AirTV's interface differs from the standard Android TV interface, but retains the Google Play store and a voice search-capable remote.

AirTV is available online with retail availability at select retailers.

Sling’s new AirTV arrives in a competitive market, with Roku, Apple, Amazon, and Xiaomi all occupying the DMA market from $29 to $149.

For the company, it is certainly simpler to utilize over the air content versus securing the rights to retransmit the same content over the Sling TV service.

The proposition is unique within the DMA market, and merges streamed and over the air content – a hybrid propostion that while common in Europe and other parts of the world, is not commonly available in the US.

Sling’s AirTV is also unique among Android TV offerings across both Smart TVs and DMAs in that it does not have the standard Android TV user experience. Sling presents its own user experience, focusing on access to over the air channels, Sling TV, and Netflix.

With Sling TV and Netflix access available across multiple platforms, it remains to be seen if the addition of over the air content access creates a compelling enough total cord cutting proposition for consumers to try AirTV over less-expensive and more well known solutions from Google, Roku, and Amazon.

Sling is marketing AirTV as an avenue to truly cut the cord, thus while compared to streaming-only DMA solutions its proposition seems to face competitive difficulties, the true value proposition for consumers may be in comparing AirTV's cost to the aggregate cost of a monthly pay-TV subscription.

For those consumers already consuming OTA content however, the base AirTV device does not offer a compelling and differentiated product compared to the competition - many of which already are capable of offering Sling TV through a supported app.


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