Satellite pay-TV provider Dish announced Thursday that its live over-the-top (OTT) skinny bundle service Sling TV became the first streaming TV provider to offer the NBA League Pass access to live out-of-market games.

For $29 a month extra, Sling TV is offering the NBA’s service as an option for subscribers to the Sling Orange, Sling Blue or Sling International packages.

The NBA League Pass offering provides access to nearly 1,000 live, out-of-market games in addition to those available on regular subscription packages through NBA TV, TNT, ABC, ESPN3 and local regional sports channels. Inclusion of NBA League Pass also provides linear access to the NBA TV channel.

For those only interested in one out-of-market NBA team, Sling TV said it will offer the NBA Team Pass option for $18 a month, providing access to live regular season games, full game replays and audio broadcasts of one of the 30 NBA team.

Sling TV launched with a package of mostly basic cable channels that was heavily weighted with ESPN channels, but sparse access to live games. The service has changed that by gradually adding different options for live game access.

Going forward, Sling TV said it also plans to offer on-demand content from NBA League Pass.

Sling TV was the first so-called “skinny bundle” OTT TV service to provide cord-cutters and cord-nevers with a less-expensive alternative to pricey traditional pay-TV cable and satellite TV services. In addition to less-expensive programming fees, Sling TV avoids the need of a lengthy contract commitment and credit approval.

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Subscribers only need to pay for a chosen package on a monthly basis, and have a supporting smart TV or media streaming device in addition to access to a broadband internet service. No equipment leasing fees are required.

The NBA League Pass addition gives Sling TV and attractive new content offering to keep and land new subscribers. Though the oldest, and largest live OTT streaming service, Sling TV has seen new competitive challenges from the recent launches of the very popular YouTube TV and expanded Hulu with live TV services, both of which garnered hundreds of thousands of subscribers shortly after launching.

Sling TV is also competing with the similar DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue live OTT services, among others.

Dish reported this week that Sling TV has been building viewer additions at a successful pace. The company closed the fourth quarter with 13.242 million total pay-TV subscribers, including 11.030 million Dish satellite-TV subscribers and 2.212 million Sling TV subscribers. It was the first time the company broke out separate accounting of the Dish TV and Sling TV subscriber numbers.


By Greg Tarr


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