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AirTV Local Stations with Sling TV

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AirTV Local Stations with Sling TV

Sling TV will soon offer local stations via an over-the-air antenna. So says Dave Zatz, who operates a consumer electronics website:

Zatz says he became curious about the possibility last year, when he stumbled upon an Echostar patent application for something called AirTV. This turned out to be a conventional Slingbox from Sling Media, a division of Echostar. The discovery, though, was followed by FCC relaxation of certain confidentiality rules This brought Zatz more tips about Echostar’s goal.

Sling TV and Echostar apparently are trying to offer local stations, but without the difficult and expensive process of obtaining the retransmission rights. To that end, AirTV will be a Slingbox with an added tuner for OTA broadcasts. The Sling TV subscriber will connect the AirTV box to an antenna and to his home internet network. He could then stream local stations through the Sling TV app to a home TV set, or to his mobile device while he is away from home. Very likely, the local stations will be listed in Sling TV’s on-screen guide.

AirTV could help Sling TV circumvent what has been the greatest difficulty in operating a pay TV service. Negotiating licensing contracts for standard ’cable’ channels is relatively easy by comparison. It’s much more difficult to acquire a comprehensive bundle of national broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, because they have hundreds of local affiliate stations, each of which wants to be paid in cash or in placement of its local ads. Sony recently reduced the scope of its PlayStation Vue TV service, mostly because it couldn’t clear this hurdle. This appears to be the chief reason Apple TV has fallen short of expectations.

In launching AirTV, Sling TV risks disaffection– and possible reprisal- by  some of its most important ‘cable’ channel providers, such as Twenty-First Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company. The former owns FOX News and FOX Sports. The latter owns ESPN, ABC, A&E, and Vice Media.

On the other hand, independent ability to deliver local stations could give Sling TV more leverage in negotiating licensing contracts with broadcasters. This could bring lower prices to consumers.

The suggested retail price for the AirTV box will be around $150.00, and the expected release date is September 17.

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