Apart from the Dish’s new distribution deal with Turner Broadcasting to broadcast networks like TBS, TNT, CNN and Cartoon Network, Dish has recently entered an agreement to offer HBO too. Dish’s Sling TV service which claims itself as a cheaper alternative to cable in US, announced on Wednesday, will soon add HBO for $15 per month in addition to its basic $20 monthly package.
For the Sling TV subscribers, the fee is inclusive of both HBO’s linear channel and video-on-demand content from the library. “It has always been our desire to make the HBO subscription widely accessible,” stated Tom Woodbury, the HBO president of global distribution. “Sling TV is a part of that ongoing evolution and we believe HBO is a great addition to the platform.”
Though the exact date of release has not be announced, Sling has promised that it will launch before the April 12 premiere of Game of Throne series. This means the launch will coincide with the Apple’s similar high-profile HBO offering. “HBO delivers hit shows and movies that TV viewers crave and with this addition we’re adding another heavy hitter to a lineup that includes ESPN,AMC, TNT and more,” said Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch.
Meanwhile, HBO is soon likely to offer HBO NOW as a standalone subscription service costing $15 per month, just like the choice to add HBO to cable bundles costing $15 a month. It’s hard to imagine that HBO would be a complementary add-on to Sling TV’s basic $20 package – in any case, why would anyone subscribe to HBO alone for $15/month when they could pay additional $5 and get all channels on Sling TV too? However, Sling TV gives its subscribers online access to a whole range of cable channels like AMC, IFC, ESPN 2, the Disney Channel, ABC Family, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, TNT, CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.
Apple had boasted that for the first three months after its launch, it will be the exclusive distributor (Internet-only) of HBO Now. It may be literally true, but as Sling TV’s HBO channel is not same as HBO Now, HBO can offer a very similar product to its customers through two different internet distributors at the same time.
Also, the Wall Street Journal report says as per the deal Dish does has the authority to provide HBO Now, but not until Apple’s exclusivity expires (i.e., for three months). If that happens, its vague whether HBO Now will replace the existing HBO channel on Sling TV or be an add-on to it. As confusing as it sounds, it could be the reason if HBO’s branding strategy backfires.