TORONTO – Ever since Sling Media released the SlingBox back in 2007, countless executives have been able to watch their favourite sports team away from home.
In fact, that’s how the founders of Sling Media got the idea for SlingBox. They were in Japan during the World Series and couldn’t find a place that would carry the San Francisco Giants/Los Angeles Angels Game 7 match.
But today’s TV viewer no longer depends on the old boob-tube to watch the game, a movie or their favourite TV show. Content is now consumed on a tablet device or a smartphone with a big screen. Sling Media has redesigned two of its products to accommodate this new TV watcher: the SlingBox Pro HD can deliver up to 720 resolution, while the SlingBox 350 has been upgraded to produce live HD streaming at 1088 resolution.
“Tablets have become more powerful and they have started to make inroads and are replacing traditional computing devices. They have become portable TVs and with 4G LTE it presents a huge opportunity for IT retailers,” said Brian Jaquet, a spokesperson for Sling Media, based in Foster City, Calif.
While Sling Media enhances its products for the new type of user, the company also augmented its go-to-market strategy. Dirk Wyckoff, director of sales for Sling Media, said its planning to be part of the next-generation set top box and is working with manufacturers such as Cisco and Motorola to put SlingBox functionality inside a set top box. This will lead to the SlingBox being made available through cable and service providers. Sling Media will still work with distributors (Ingram Micro in Canada) to provide product to retailers in Canada.
“We’re going to leave it up to the providers in terms of cost. If they go with a customer retention strategy and it’s free, or base it on packages, those models will not be determined by us because they constantly change,” Wyckoff said.
Jaquet added that there is fragmentation in the market and it will lead to bigger opportunity for IT retailers that carry the SlingBox. Consumers today don’t just watch TV, they sign up for NetFlix for $8 a month and they have it on various devices. There are TV apps and you can also get a full complement of baseball games on MLB.com (except for your home team’s games) for about $120.
“The consumer is ultimately confused by this fragmentation and all-a-carte offerings and they are not getting the full TV experience. Add the Apple TV or Ruku and it gets even more confusing. The SlingBox is the only product out there with a unified experience on a TV, tablet, smartphone, Web browser, access to PVR content, video on demand and with these new products the ability to push photos and video up to a TV from a mobile device in HD with no monthly fees,” Jaquet said.
One of the new features of the SlingBox is the capability to bring personal content such as photos and videos to the big screen. Current SlingBox will have the ability to push photos taken from a smartphone. Future SlingBox products will have the video capability, Jaquet said.
The new SlingBox comes with a USB port which gives users the ability to watch saved content such as photos and, eventually, video. Jaquet said this content is sync with the smartphone and gives users the ability to view photos on a TV anywhere in the world.
Another strategy Sling Media is employing with these new products it to get rid of all other boxes around the TV. SlingBoxes will come with not just a USB port, but also Ethernet, HDMI and other ports.
The SlingBox starts at $179.