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Sling mulls adding NBC News channels to Freestream

A survey sent to Sling Freestream users suggests the service could onboard NBC's free, ad-supported streaming channels soon.

A survey sent to Sling Freestream users suggests the service could onboard NBC's free, ad-supported streaming channels soon.

News content from local NBC-owned stations appears in the streaming app Peacock. (Graphic by The Desk)
News content from local NBC-owned stations appears in the streaming app Peacock. Local NBC News content streams could soon debut on Sling’s free, ad-supported service Freestream. (Graphic by The Desk)

Dish Network’s free, ad-supported streaming service Sling Freestream may add around a dozen NBC News content streams in the future, according to a survey circulated among consumers this week.

The survey, a copy of which was obtained by The Desk, asked Sling Freestream users to evaluate various potential new offerings and channels, including “the local NBC news channel in your area from Freestream for free.”

Reached by phone on Friday, a source close to NBC Universal declined to say whether the company was having discussions with Dish or anyone at Sling Freestream over plans to add the local NBC News streams, but affirmed NBC’s strategy was to have the local news feeds as widely distributed as possible.

A survey sent to Sling Freestream users asked for their thoughts on local NBC News channels. (Graphic by The Desk)
A survey sent to Sling Freestream users asked for their thoughts on local NBC News channels. (Graphic by The Desk)

Since the start of the year, Comcast’s NBC Universal has been aggressive in making deals with free, ad-supported streaming platforms to expand the reach of its local NBC News channels, which originate from its owned-and-operated stations in markets like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The channels first debuted on Comcast’s streaming service Peacock in 2021. Those “Peacock Editions” featured simulcasts and same-day replays of newscasts from NBC owned-and-operated stations, and later expanded into lifestyle shows and other original programs developed by the local NBC television station group.

In January, NBC Universal brought its 10 local NBC News streams to Comcast and Charter’s joint venture Xumo, with the channels landing on the free, ad-supported streaming service Xumo Play. That same month, the channels also became available on Samsung TV Plus under a separate agreement with the electronics maker.

Earlier this spring, NBC Universal reached an agreement with Amazon’s Freevee to distribute its local NBC News channels on that free, ad-supported streaming platform. The deal also included four Noticias Telemundo content streams. Telemundo is owned by Comcast.

Sling Freestream doesn’t offer content from NBC Universal, but it does distribute free streaming channels from some of its competitors, including Paramount Global and the Walt Disney Company.

The channel options on Sling Freestream, which eclipsed over 400 this past summer, are largely focused on general entertainment, national and global news, niche sports, documentaries and movies. Local news would be a next logical step for the service, and could come as a package deal with NBC’s other free, ad-supported streaming channels like NBC News Now, Sky News, NBC Sports and Golf Pass.

Sling Freestream is available within the Sling TV app on smartphones, tablets and smart TV sets. The app also offers access to Sling’s pay television service, which offers NBC-owned cable channels in its “Sling Blue” package, starting at $40 a month.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).