Sling Sees a Day When All TV Is À La Carte

View Transcript
September 24, 2018
Updated 1mo ago

By Carlo Versano

While the television industry rapidly consolidates and cord-cutting spreads, Sling TV envisions a future where bundles are things of the past, and customers watch programming on an "à la carte" basis.

Warren Schlichting, the company's EVP and group president, spoke to Cheddar on Monday from Denver Startup Week about the ever-changing media landscape.

"I don't want to pay for things I'm not watching," he said, channeling the mantra of the 2.3 million cord-cutters who make up Sling's customer base.

Sling, an OTT service owned by Dish ($DISH), recently expanded a partnership with ratings firm Nielsen to digitally measure ad campaigns that run on the service. Advertisers on traditional television have long relied on Nielsen's famously complex ratings metrics, while OTT allows for a more targeted approach.

"Nielsen is the currency of linear television," said Schlichting, noting that the partnership will help Nielsen ratings become the "currency" for streaming as well.

Sling's customer base still pales in comparison to that of a major cable provider. But the metric that matters is growth, Schlichting said.

It's no secret that cable growth is slowing ー see Comcast's ($CMCSA) Sky deal as evidence ー while streaming is on the rise.

One of the business challenges with an OTT service like Sling has been the unpredictability of user patterns ー unbound by long-term contracts, customers tend to leave, come back, then repeat. It's a new kind of consumer who follows the content. Schlichting said that is precisely why Sling has expanded its offerings to include pay-per-view and VOD products.

"There's all sorts of ways you interact with Sling," he said.

According to a study by eMarketer last month, cord-cutting will grow by 33 percent this year, and the number of people who subscribe to at least one OTT service will rise to just over half the U.S. population. There's still about 90 million Americans who pay $100 a month or so for cable ー all potential Sling customers, in Schlichting's estimation.

"We like our chances," he said.

For full interview click here.