Slinging towards the channel

Sling Media is taking its Sling Box device, which enables a user to watch their home TV anywhere in the world on a laptop or mobile handset, to the next level by expanding the product line.

Starting this year the Sling Box product will be joined by a Pro version, an AV model, personal broadcaster, tuner unit and one that is an option to the Pro device for obtaining a high definition connection.

The company is also planning to release a second group of products under the name SlingLink thatl give users one- or four-port connections. Another SlingBox option will be a powerline Ethernet bridge. The Link line of Sling Media’s offering could net a reseller 25 per cent margins when installing a home network, according to Gregg Wilkes, vice-president of sales for Foster City, Calif.-based Sling Media.

This is a far cry from when Blake and Jason Krikorian, the founders of Sling Media, could not find a place to watch the seventh game of the World Series in Tokyo to cheer on their home town San Francisco Giants.

“This is disruptive technology born out of passion,” Wilkes said. “They solved a need that they had; a way to watch TV anywhere in the world.”

Wilkes added that Sling Media products have a large addressable market, but in Canada the market is only being served by Best Buy, Future Shop and London Drugs.

He believes there is an opportunity for the traditional reseller with Sling Media. However, the company wants to meet its retail partners requirements first before it embarks on a country -wide channel strategy.

Currently, Sling Media has only one distributor in Ingram Micro Canada. Keating Technologies is its manufacturer’s representative here.

Wilkes added that there is not enough business to add on another distributor such as Synnex, which has a dedicated CE division.

The company is looking at the channel to open the market for its products now that it has an expanded line up beyond the Sling Box.

“Traditional VARs understand the service side of the CE. The CE and IT sides are converging so you will see a traditional VAR installing home theatres because there are good margins there,” Wilkes said.

Another key factor to this move is that VARs do not have to be trained for this because they understand networking, wiring and service, he said.

For retailers, Sling Media hired Channel Force to train the thousands of sales agents at Best Buy, London Drugs and FutureShop.

The Sling Box can also be sold as a surveillance device along with a camera. For example, the Sling Box is capable of capturing how a baby sitter is working out while parents are at a dinner engagement. Or a camera can be positioned in a store to monitor 25 cash registers in 25 locations. Managers can watch staff cash out customers on a mobile device anywhere in the world with the Sling Box.

The company will also release Clip and Sling and Sling Catcher products this year.

Clip and Sling enables a user to record a funny moment in a sitcom or a winning goal of a hockey game and e-mail that portion of the program. The clip is stored on Sling Media’s Web site and then forwarded to the recipient.

Sling Media has partnered with content provides such as CBS to push this initiative out to TV viewers.

The Sling Box is available for Mac and Windows Vista platforms. The company is working on a Linux/Java player for the future.

“The Sling Box increases the value of everything you buy (mobile device, laptop, and TV), Wilkes said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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