As the drum-tight pay TV market tries to make room for yet another skinny-bundle competitor, two virtual operators, Sling TV and Philo, seem most exposed.
And executives for these embattled incumbents have taken notice.
“It’s a very competitive product,” said Erik Carlson, CEO of Sling TV parent company Dish Network, speaking during Friday’s third-quarter earnings call. “it’s something that they’ve been working on a while since they acquired Layer3 TV. And we’re just looking forward to try to compete against them.”
“I think the offering from T-Mobile is really interesting,” added Philo CEO Andrew McCollum, speaking Monday during Questex-produced virtual conference the StreamTV Show.
For Philo, the “interest” lies in TVision’s “Vibe” tier, which packages over 30 entertainment-oriented cable networks, much of the selection overlapping with the $20-a-month Philo, for just $10 a month.
“Comparing the prices directly isn’t fair,” McCollum pointed out, noting that TVision Vibe customers have to pay $5 a month for a DVR while Philo offers one for free. And Vibe’s DVR is capped at 100 hours of HD recording vs. unlimited storage for Philo.
“Also, you only get two streams instead of three” with Vibe,” he added, “and it’s not available on Roku. It’s only available on T-Mobile postpaid.”
McCollum also pointed out T-Mobile’s early carriage kerfuffles with Discovery Networks, ViacomCBS and NBCUniversal over channel positioning, Discovery, for instance, is miffed about being relegated to Vibe and not included in the more traditional-looking, $40-a-month TVision Live bundle, which looks a lot like the $30-a-month Sling TV package, right down to the exclusion of CBS local channels.
NBCU, conversely, isn’t happy about being left out of Vibe.
“They seem to be in hot waters with their programming partners, so maybe the approach they took wasn’t calculated right…” McCollum said.
McCollum revealed Monday that Philo has reached the 800,000 paid subscriber mark. Dish said Friday that Sling TV added 203,000 customers in Q3, marking a return to growth for the vMVPD after recessionary Q1 and Q2 periods.
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!
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