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Sling TV to offer ABC local channels for $60 a year

The logo for Dish Network's forthcoming "Sling TV." [Photo: Supplied]
The logo for Dish Network’s forthcoming “Sling TV.” [Photo: Supplied]
Sling TV, the Dish Network-owned streaming television service, will begin offering the ABC network in a handful of markets, a significant step in offering local television stations to its subscribers.

But the channel won’t come cheap: Sling TV will offer the channel, not as part of its base $20 package, but in an add-on package called “Broadcast Extra” that will cost subscribers an additional $5 per month to view.

The cost of getting ABC — which is limited to eight metropolitan areas where the network owns the affiliate — will mean subscribers will have to pay a total of $25 to get a single channel that they could otherwise get with an antenna for free. The total yearly cost of adding on ABC will be roughly $60 before tax — the cost of a decent amplified antenna.

The channel will initially launch to customers in ABC’s viewing areas in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Fresno (California) and Raleigh (North Carolina). In each of those areas, ABC’s parent company Disney owns the station affiliated with the network. In most of those communities, customers could sign up for limited basic cable — which includes ABC plus other major television networks – for roughly the same cost as Sling TV, if not less.

Comcast, for instance, charges between $11 and $21 for it’s “limited basic cable” package. The package includes affiliates of ABC, CBS, PBS, FOX, Univision, independent stations and the Comcast-owned NBC network. But the package doesn’t include cable networks like TBS, TNT or A&E, channels Sling TV currently carries in its base package.

Sling TV customers who are likely to sign up for the streaming ABC package — which also includes Univision and Unimas — are likely to live in areas or buildings where receiving ABC is difficult or impossible with an antenna. It would also appeal to people who want to watch ABC programming on smartphones and tablets, since ABC’s own “Watch ABC” app requires authentication with a cable company to view (the problem is rectified on Sling, which has its own mobile apps).

But, considering there are cheaper alternatives, it will be a hard sell for everyone else. It remains to be seen if Sling TV — which as recently as October said broadcast networks weren’t ready for the service — will add any more over-the-air channels to its streaming lineup, and whether customers are willing to shell out extra money for something they can receive with an antenna for free.

CordCutter News: Sling TV to add ABC, Univision to “Broadcast Extra” package

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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