Sling TV is looking to win some goodwill and attract new prospects for its paid streaming services by introducing a free, news-driven access offer during the coronavirus outbreak.
The free offer, dubbed “Stay in & Sling!,” includes access to ABC News Live, a 24/7 streaming video news channel, as well as access to “thousands of movies and shows suitable for kids and families” on Sling, according to the service.
"To stay informed in these uncertain times, Americans need access to news from reputable sources," Warren Schlichting, group president, Sling TV, said in the announcement. "With many Americans finding themselves staying at home, we have an opportunity to use our platform to help them deal with this rapidly evolving situation."
Sling’s standard Orange and Blue packages cost $30 per month, or $45 per month for both.
The service is also offering Blue—which it calls its “best news service—for $10 off for the first month to new customers.
Consumers can access Sling’s free offering by downloading the app through Roku, Amazon or Android devices or visiting Sling.com on a Chrome, Safari or Edge browser. Current Sling subscribers can access the free content within the user interface on any Sling-supported device, without changing their subscriptions.
Sling, owned by Dish, saw its first quarterly subscriber loss in last year’s final quarter: down 94,000, to 2.59 million.
That means Sling has lost its position as the #1 live TV streaming service to rapidly-growing Hulu + Live TV, which finished Q4 with a record 3.4 million subscribers. YouTube TV is in third place, with 2 million subscribers.
In last year’s fourth quarter, Sling gained 47,000 subscribers.
For the full year, Dish added about 175,000 net Sling TV subscribers, down from 205,000 last year.
The company attributed the decline in growth to increased competition from OTT and other service providers, and to “a higher number of customer disconnects on a larger Sling TV subscriber base, including the impact from Univision, AT&T and Fox regional sports networks’ removal of certain of their channels from our programming lineup," in a recent regulatory filing.
Both the Sling and Hulu services raised their prices in late December, so the full impact of those won’t be clear until the end of the current first quarter.