Sling TV Adds ABC Stations in 8 Major Cities, Becomes the Go-To vMVPD for the NBA Postseason
Sling Orange subscribers in New York, L.A., Chicago, Philly and San Francisco will pay more -- $45 a month now. But NBA post-season watchers won't have a cheaper pay TV option
In a major programming addition, Sling TV will now carry ABC owned stations in eight major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
Unfortunately for Sling Orange tier customers in those markets, who also have access to local NBC and FOX stations, the price of their service is going up another $5 to $45 a month. And the price of the combined Orange/Blue tier is also going up for them by $5 to $60 a month.
It's unclear as to whether Sling Orange subscribers in the other three markets gaining access to ABC O&Os -- Raleigh-Durham, Fresno and Houston -- will also see a price bump.
“For many years, Sling has been able to absorb the increasing costs of these local broadcast channels,” Sling TV President Gary Schanman said in a statement. “To carry ABC, FOX and NBC, we need to ensure our pricing includes some of the cost of delivering these services.”
Sling TV just raised its national prices by five bucks for both its Orange and Blue tiers to $40 a month in November.
Meanwhile, Sling TV lost 77,000 customers in the third quarter, reducing its base to 2.334 million subscribers -- roughly where it stood in 2018.
Notably, 2018 was also the last year that Sling TV offered ABC channels -- it once made local ABC stations available (opens in new tab) in a since discontinued add-on package called "Broadcast Extra."
Sling TV and its parent company, Dish Network, were involved in a carriage dispute with ABC overlord Disney back in October that saw ESPN and other Disney channels disappear from the Sling and Dish satellite program grids for an entire football weekend.
It appears the ABC additions, which involved stations owned and operated by the broadcaster, were part of the retransmission and carriage renewal negotiations that were successfully hammered out during that period.
With live sports now driving signups and churn for virtual pay TV services, it's also worth mentioning: The addition of ABC puts Sling TV at a competitive advantage over rival virtual pay TV services heading into the NBA Playoffs in just a few months, with Sling now carrying all three networks for games.
While cable channels TNT and ESPN share the first round, conference semifinals and conference finals, ABC broadcast has exclusive rights to the NBA Finals. Last June, the NBA Finals pitting the Golden State Warriors against the Boston Celtics averaged more than 20 million viewers.
And Sling TV just turned itself into the cheapest option for watching the entire NBA post-season.
FuboTV, for example, lacks carriage of TNT and is priced $30 a month higher. YouTube TV does carry all three major networks that license the NBA Playoffs, but even with a $30 off for three months promotion, it's still priced $10 higher than Sling. Hulu+ Live TV also has the goods, but is priced at $70 a month.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!