Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch doesn’t think the narrative of “cord-cutters” fleeing cable because of high prices is a myth. He he thinks we’re well into that reality already.
“It’s undeniable that traditional pay TV subscribers are in decline,” he tells Business Insider, highlighting recent losses, which totaled over 800,000 last quarter according to SNL Kagan.
The pitch of Sling has always been that it would help bring those cord-cutters back into the fold.
Since Sling debuted in early 2015, it has led the charge toward a “skinny bundle” of cable channels. The concept is simple: get rid of that bloated package of hundreds of channels and replace it with 20-odd good ones, for around $20. Sling has a few different options now, but the core is still a lean selection of channels, priced low, streaming over the internet, and delivered to whatever device you want.
Sling watches people throw off their $100-plus cable plans, and then sells them on something cleaner, cheaper.
When Sling started 18 months ago, it was the only company really doing that. That is set to change in a big way, as a ton of players, from Hulu to DirecTV to Amazon, are poised to crash into the market.
But Lynch says that, to him, these new entrants into live streaming seem to be just recreating the big bundle, which misses the point of a shift in what viewers want. “To me, it’s recreating the sins of the past,” Lynch says, speaking about Sony’s Vue service, which starts at over 60 channels and balloons to over 100.
Lynch says he expects Hulu’s offering to be similar to Sony’s, given that Hulu’s big TV owners have an understandable interest in maintaining the potency of the big bundle (the rumours coming out of Hulu are that it will be in the ballpark of $30-$40 per month). “It’s not that likely that they end up dumping a bunch of channels out of the base package,” Lynch continues. There’s a lot of institutional pressure to protect the big bundle, he says.
But Lynch doesn’t think that type of service will define the future.
“I don’t think that just recreating that will materially change the trajectory of the industry,” he says. Instead, he thinks that Sling’s skinny bundle is ready to expand its audience. On Tuesday Sling rolled out a new marketing campaign featuring Danny Trejo, its first going after “all active pay TV subscribers,” Lynch says.
“There are 40 million active streaming players [like Roku, Apple TV, etc.] in the US. That’s mass market,” Lynch says. That’s the primary way consumers access streaming TV services like Sling. The distribution channel is there, and right on cue, competitors are flooding into the live streaming TV space.
Now it remains to be seen if Sling’s core philosophy is enough to maintain its leadership position in live streaming, and propel it beyond the “more than 600,000” subscribers it hard earlier this year (though Lynch says its growth has been accelerating).
Here is one of Sling’s new spots featuring Danny Trejo, aimed at the mass market: