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Sling TV to Reach 2M Subs This Year: Analyst

Sling TV, Dish Network’s OTT-TV service aimed at cord-cutters, could eclipse 2 million subs by the end of 2016, per a new forecast from Goldman Sachs.

Dish currently does not break out Sling TV subscribers when it issues its quarterly financials (Sling TV had about 169,000 subs at the end of March 2015, about a month after the service launched nationally), but gains made by the OTT service were not enough for Dish to avoid an aggregated loss of 23,000 video subscribers in Q3 2015.

In a research note, Goldman Sachs analyst Brett Feldman estimated that Sling TV ended Q3 with 346,000 subs. StreamingMedia reported last month that suppliers said Sling TV had fewer than 500,000 subs by the end of October 2015.

The new forecast from Goldman Sachs suggests that Sling TV will accelerate its subs growth this year, as Apple’s purported pay TV effort remains stalled amid snarled discussions with broadcasters and other programmers. It’s unclear if a surge in Sling TV sub growth will put the service in jeopardy of triggering any subscriber-level clauses in the OTT provider’s distribution deals with programmers.

Back in May 2014, Time Warner Inc. chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes said at an investor conference that he believed the OTT service was limited to 2 million subs with one distributor, and 5 million overall. Of course, Sling TV’s distribution deals likely differ from programmer to programmer.

At CES, Sling TV unveiled a new, more personalized interface, including integration of the digital-only ESPN3 service, that is being rolled out across its footprint during Q1 2016.