Sports fans who've been holding tight to their cable TV package so they never miss a game will soon have a new option in their playbook: Sling TV, Dish Network's new streaming-video service that will include ESPN, the Washington Post reports. The $20-a-month service, which was announced yesterday at CES and is set to debut later this month, will also offer 11 other popular cable networks, including CNN, Food Network, and the Disney Channel, the New York Times reports. The move is designed to retain cable subscribers getting fed up with rising bills, as well as to draw in a younger demographic that never tapped into cable in the first place. "We are not hitting the 18- to 35-year-old market today; we just aren't," Dish CEO Joseph Clayton tells the Times.
Sling TV joins other subscription services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon—all competition for the old-school TV model, which racks up $170 billion a year, the Times notes; HBO, Showtime, and CBS are also setting up their own subscription streaming services. Not that there aren't pitfalls to the new Dish offering, as Peter Kafka points out on Re/Code: Sling TV needs to be purchased separately for each device; the service isn't directly available on Apple TV; and you won't get local news or major broadcast networks like ABC or Fox. And because of Verizon's exclusive mobile deal to stream NFL games, those won't be viewable on mobile devices. Kafka also wonders how long Dish can stay profitable at $20 a month and how capable the company is of keeping up high-quality streaming. (Cable behemoths like Comcast and Time Warner may have to rethink their pricey TV packages.)