Sling TV Update Brings Interface Improvements for Apple TV Users

Sling TV has updated its Apple TV app in an effort to simplify access to content and enhance discoverability on the online streaming television platform.

The new user interface upgrades, which are based on customer feedback, include improvements that put content front and center, while enabling subscribers to manage favorites and see more information about shows before viewing.

In the new larger grid guide view, more images and blurbs now appear for the currently selected show, while filters on the left-hand side of the screen filter channels by categories including My Channels, Sports, Movies, and Kids.

Meanwhile, individual channel guides can be accessed by clicking the channel logo on the left of the grid guide to see all the content available on that channel, and clicking a show now also offers more images and information on other seasons available via the streaming service.

Elsewhere in the update, Favorite channels gain some visual UI improvements, and can now be managed by selecting an orange icon at the front of a row, allowing subscribers to view their recordings and edit content in the continue watching ribbon.

Lastly, tapping the Apple Remote touch pad during streaming now lets users view more information about what they're watching, including show name, description, closed caption options, player controls are more.

Sling says the new features for Apple TV are set to come to other Sling TV-supported devices in the future. See the Sling blog for more information.

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Sling TV Increases Cheapest Plan to $25/Month, Introduces Limited Free Content and À La Carte Channels

Sling TV today announced that it will be increasing the price of its entry-level Sling Orange service by $5 per month, jumping the price up to $25 per month for subscribers. Existing subscribers will not be grandfathered in to their old price, and all Sling Orange customers will see the new monthly $25 price reflected in their bills starting in August.

Sling TV president Warren Schlichting explained in a blog post today that while the company's goal is to keep subscriber prices as low as possible, programming fees and other aspects of the service necessitate the monthly price hike. "Our team works hard to negotiate fair programming deals, with the goal of keeping your price as low as possible," Schlichting said. "Programming fees, however, only go one direction, and that’s up!"

No other aspects of Sling Orange have been changed, so users can still subscribe to the $25 plan and get just over 30 live channels (including ESPN) and DVR features. Comparatively, Sling Orange is still one of the cheapest entries in live TV streaming market, with DirecTV Now starting at $35/month (down to $20/month for AT&T Unlimited plans), and Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV starting at $40/month.

Alongside the price increase, Sling TV revealed a slew of new updates aimed at introducing free content, à la carte channels, movies on-demand, and more without requiring customers to pay for a base subscription (for now only on Roku devices). Part of the announcement is an attempt to get anyone who previously subscribed to Sling TV to return to the service.

When returning customers re-open the Sling TV app, they'll be able to access more than 100 hours of free TV shows and movies without restarting their subscription. These customers will also see ribbons that highlight free shows and films to watch, at launch including "Good Behavior," "Wrecked," "The Detour," and more.

Additionally, anyone can now purchase select channels à la carte without needing to sign up for an entire Sling TV tier. Right now, there are only eight channels available, but with the update if you're interested in only watching one of these channels in the Sling TV app, you can pay individually per month to get the access you want without other channels you might not watch. The company said that more channels will be added in the future, but as of now include:
- Showtime: $10
- CuriosityStream: $6
- Stingray Karaoke: $7
- Dove Channel: $5
- Outside TV Features: $5
- Up Faith & Family: $5
- Pantaya: $6
- NBA League Pass: $28.99
Outside of a Sling TV subscription, customers can now buy pay-per-view events as a one-time purchase in the app as well. There's also the option to buy movies in Sling TV without a monthly subscription, including a catalog of 5,000 popular films.

The company didn't clarify when exactly non-Roku users will see these updates, but confirmed other devices will be supported "in the near future."

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Dish Reports Sling TV Has Grown to 2.2M Subscribers as of the End of 2017

Dish Network today reported official numbers for its streaming television service Sling TV, which marks the first time that the company disclosed the service's subscriber numbers separately from its traditional pay TV numbers. According to Dish, Sling TV had 2.212 million subscribers as of the end of 2017, aligning with previous estimates that the service had well over 2 million subscribers (via TechCrunch).

Sling TV was one of the first streaming TV bundles to launch, so its continued high ranking in regards to subscriber numbers makes sense. Following Sling TV remain services like DirecTV Now (1 million subscribers as of December 2017), PlayStation Vue (455,000 as of December 2017), Hulu with Live TV (450,000 as of January 2018), and YouTube TV (300,000 as of January 2018). Sling TV and PlayStation Vue launched in 2015, DirecTV Now launched in 2016, and Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV each debuted in 2017.

Dish further detailed Sling TV's subscriber growth in its 10-K filing this week, stating the service had 623,000 subscribers in its first year on the market, then grew to 1.5 million by 2016, and 2.21 million by the end of 2017. More users switching from traditional TV bundles to streaming services are believed to be impacting Dish's revenue, however, with its total 2017 revenue at $14.39 billion, down year-over-year from $15.21 billion. In total, 1.1 million users were reported as having dropped Dish's pay TV bundles in 2017.

Like other streaming TV services, Sling TV allows users to choose between various tiers, with prices that start at $20/month for a small amount of channels and then increase in price as more channels are added. Sling TV is one of the cheapest services to enter with this price, while rivals like YouTube TV cost $35/month, and Hulu with Live TV and PlayStation Vue start at $39.99/month. DirecTV Now also starts at $35/month, and has an ongoing deal where new subscribers can pay for three months of service at $105 and get a 32GB Apple TV 4K for free.

Although Sling TV has been out for longer and subsequently has more robust features, some of the newer services are still in beta and testing updates that have yet to launch to a wide audience. These include DirecTV Now's beta test of a Cloud DVR, which is now said to be coming this spring, as well as Hulu's decision to add a more traditional channel guide for its users. Earlier in February, YouTube TV launched an app for Apple TV after delaying the initial launch from 2017.

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