Sling TV has long been a viable option for sports fans who want to cut the cord with traditional pay television, thanks to its streams of popular channels providing sports coverage, like ESPN, Fox Sports, TNT, TBS and more. Now, you can add NFL Network and NFL RedZone to that mix, thanks to a newly announced deal between Sling TV parent company Dish Network and the NFL.
The deal allows Dish to restore the two NFL channels on its satellite TV service, while also adding the channels to the Sling TV streaming service, as of the beginning of the 2016 regular season.
The NFL Network will offer Thursday Night Football games during the regular season, along with other sports programming, like “NFL GameDay Morning,” “A Football Life,” “Good Morning Football” and “Timeline.”
The company has yet to announce the pricing associated with the addition of the two NFL channels.
However, over the years, Sling TV’s pricing plans have gotten more complicated. Originally, the service was a $20 per month base package for access to the so-called “best of live TV,” with the option to add on $5 per month “Extras” – packages centered around themes like kids programming or comedy or sports, for example. Meanwhile, premium add-ons like HBO and Cinemax are priced higher.
But due to complicated rights issues associated with distributing these channels, Sling has had to launch separate services for those who want the ability to watch Sling on more than one device at a time. Then, instead of giving them obvious names, it went with colors: Sling Blue (multi-stream) and Sling Orange (single-stream). In addition, the two services don’t have the same channel line-up, confusing the matter even more.
Meanwhile, at the same time as Dish is appealing to cord cutters with Sling TV’s expansion and the NFL additions, it’s also now bringing the concept of skinny bundles back to its satellite TV service for the first time.
Launching today, Dish is unveiling a $39.99 “Flex Pack” that includes over 50 channels and the choice of one of eight themed channel packs. Other channel packs range from $4 to $10 per month, and are focused on genres like local networks, kids, entertainment, news and more. But unlike Sling TV, Flex Pack is part of Dish’s traditional pay TV service – meaning it requires a Dish receiver, installation, and a contract.
This move comes at a time when Dish just lost a record number of subscribers, having shed a net 281,000 customers across both its satellite TV and Sling TV services in Q2. The company blamed the loss on – among other things – cord cutting. However, Dish’s net income grew to $410 million, up 26.5 percent year-over-year, thanks to it boosting its prices for the satellite TV service.