During Denver Startup Week, Dish Network co-founder and chairman Charlie Ergen and Dish’s executive vice-president of marketing, programming and media sales, Warren Schlichting, sat down with Cheddar’s Jon Steinberg to talk about the future of Sling TV and how they combat the pay TV tradition of big bundles with big price tags.
Ergen said he first noticed the shift in traditional pay TV when his own kids were opting out, ultimately leading him to the idea of Sling TV. Now, six years later, Sling holds the title of the number one live OTT (over-the-top) service with competition constantly popping up. But, Ergen said when they first started down the live OTT path, they didn’t realize how difficult it would be.
“Live presents a lot of different challenges. We don’t control the quality of the internet, we don’t control the consistency of your connection,” he said. “We didn’t realize the internet backbone wasn’t designed for live. We’ve been on the bleeding edge of that.”
When it comes to maintaining Sling’s attractive pricing, both Ergen and Schlichting said giving customers choice is just better, which is why Sling has leaned into the a la carte format despite what competitors are offering in both the live streaming space and the traditional pay TV space.
“We call it a la carte TV because we’re trying to get away from this idea that you have a big, bloated bundle,” Schlichting said. “We like the idea that you’re not going to pay for a bunch of extra channels that you’re not going to watch.”
Both Ergen and Schlichting credit the low price point and the a la carte packaging flexibility to being first in the live OTT marketplace.
“We just think if you err on the side of the consumer, long term, your business is going to be better,” Ergen said. “We fight the good fight.”