Slingbox [Place]-Shifts into Another Gear

In its latest attempt to resonate with mainstream consumers that want all of their TV on the go, Sling Media has launched the Slingbox M2, a video place-shifting device that won’t require users to buy the mobile applications that go with it.

The M2 ($199.99) shares the same hardware and form factor as the Slingbox M1, but users will no longer be on the hook to pay extra for the Sling app for tablets and smartphones, which typically runs $15 per app, per device.

Sling Media hopes to make up for that by selling ads that run on apps for mobile devices and PCs, as well as browser-based clients paired with the M2. Those users will see a pre-roll ad when they fi re up the SlingPlayer app, and ads will also appear in the app viewing window (no ads will be placed on top of the video itself, though). Display ads will disappear completely when M2 customers use the apps in full-screen mode, Mark Vena, Sling Media’s worldwide vice president of marketing, said.

Sling Media began to stitch ads into its free Web browser and standalone PC apps last October to offset costs for ongoing engineering and technology testing requirements.

The company hasn’t said how many retail Slingboxes have been shipped, but Vena estimated that the M1 makes up about 60% to 65% of recent sales. Sling’s high-end Slingbox 500 model runs $299.99.

Sling Media is launching the M2 amid growing usage of multiscreen TV Everywhere apps. Sling is trying to distance itself by providing remote access to users’ full pay TV subscriptions, including DVR recordings, rather than the typical subset of channels.