Sling Media

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Sling Media Inc.
Type Public (EchoStar:SATS)
Industry Placeshifting, Streaming media, Computer hardware, Mobile app
Founded 2004
Headquarters Foster City, California, USA
Key people Michael Hawkey, Senior Vice President and GM
Ilya Asnis, Vice President of Engineering
Jay Berryhill, Vice President of Sales and Business Development
Paddy Rao, Vice President of Products
Mark Vena, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing
Products Slingbox 500, Slingbox 350, SlingPlayer apps for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire, Dish Sling Adapter, Dish XiP 913, ARRIS MS4000
Employees 275+
Website www.slingbox.com

Sling Media Inc. is a technology company that develops placeshifting and Smart TV solutions for consumers, multiple-system operators and set top box manufacturers. The company is a subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation (acquired in the fall of 2007) and is based in Foster City, California. Their flagship product, the Slingbox, debuted on the US market on July 1, 2005.

History[edit]

The company was founded in 2004 by brothers Blake and Jason Krikorian from San Francisco and are devoted San Francisco Giants fans. During the 2002 Major League Baseball season, they often traveled far from home, and faced missing the best games of the season, leading to the initial concept for the Slingbox.[1]

On September 24, 2007, EchoStar announced an agreement to acquire Sling Media for approximately $380 million USD.[2] The founders left the company in January 2009.[3]


Products[edit]

Retail Slingbox Hardware[edit]

(see also Slingbox)

The original Slingbox, now referred to as the Slingbox Classic, was released July 1, 2005. It was designed by Yves Béhar,[4] and had the appearance of a "foil-wrapped chocolate bar."

Second Generation - AV, Tuner and Pro[edit]

Improvement came with the introduction of the second-generation line of Sling Media products: the Slingbox AV, the Slingbox Tuner, and the Slingbox Pro. While the Slingbox AV became a simplified unit with s-video and composite inputs only, the Slingbox Tuner provided service for the other end of the spectrum, with only a single coaxial input for use by basic cable and antenna-only applications. The Slingbox Pro introduced a four input design, combining the capabilities of the AV and Tuner units while also allowing for the connection of high definition sources with the use of an accessory cable adding component and digital audio inputs.

Third Generation - SOLO and PRO-HD[edit]

In 2007, Sling introduced the Slingbox SOLO, a third generation box that was a "streamlined version of the Slingbox Pro".[5] It provided a high quality standard definition video stream and a lower price point. This model was followed up in 2008 by the Slingbox PRO-HD, a high-end device that supported placeshifting HDTV (1080i) video and currently is the only Slingbox to include an ATSC tuner for over-the-air HDTV broadcasts.[6] The Slingbox SOLO was also later repackaged as the Slingbox 120 for special vertical and international markets.[7]

An unknown number of the third generation Slingboxes were susceptible to the capacitor plague. While many enthusiasts replaced these capacitors on their own,[8][9] Sling later addressed these issues in support. Remanufactured and refurbished third-generation Slingboxes have been fixed as well.

Fourth Generation - 350 and 500[edit]

In October 2012, Sling Media launched the Slingbox 350 and 500 to replace the Slingbox SOLO and PRO-HD. With the digital television transition in the United States, the desirability of a standard definition focused product no longer existed in Sling's main market. Therefore both boxes include HDTV capability, though the ATSC digital tuner that was included in the PRO-HD was not included in either Slingbox. The Slingbox 350 is the base product, with one SD/HD audio-video input (composite or component) and an ethernet port to connect to the Internet.

The Slingbox 500 is a platform for next-generation Smart TV capabilities. In addition to placeshifting, the Slingbox 500 includes streaming apps from Dish Digital, including Dishworld and Blockbuster On-Demand, as well as the ability to manage and view personal media, including video. The Slingbox 500 also includes Wi-Fi networking and HDMI passthrough capabilities. However, because of restrictive HDCP DRM, Sling still recommends that customers use component cables for placeshifting.[10]

Other Hardware and Accessories[edit]

In 2008, Sling introduced the SlingCatcher, a hardware device to view content from a remote Slingbox, as well as personal media. The product garnered mixed reviews from its limited capabilities, including no support for HDTV, complex nature and its price.[11]

Because early Slingboxes did not support Wi-Fi, connecting them to a network was difficult if a customer did not have an ethernet jack near their set top box. To address these needs, Sling released the SlingLink line of power line adapters.[12] With the release of a Wi-Fi-enabled Slingbox 500, the product was discontinued and is no longer supported.

SlingPlayer Apps[edit]

Customers view placeshifted content from their Slingbox at the Slingbox Watch website. Customers can also purchase the SlingPlayer apps for their mobile smartphones and tablets. Supported platforms include iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android (phones and tablets), Kindle Fire and Microsoft Windows 8.1 tablets.[13] Previously supported platforms include Blackberry, Palm OS and Symbian.

SlingPlayer apps also have the ability to "cast" their video stream to a TV screen through a Smart TV box. Supported platforms include:

  • AppleTV via AirPlay (iOS SlingPlayer apps only)
  • Roku devices, which requires a Roku customer to download a SlingPlayer for Roku app

There are several native apps for Connected Devices that can view and control a remote Slingbox. Supported devices include:[13]

OEM Solutions[edit]

In addition to developing products and services for consumers, Sling also provides multiple-system operators and set top box manufacturers a solution for mobile viewing of licensed content and the integration of Smart TV technologies. These capabilities include an SDK, cloud infrastructure and engineering resources.

Sling's technology is currently embedded in the following products:

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Early in its history, the Slingbox caused widespread speculation of its possible legal implications.[21] High on the list of issues cited by critics, was the ability to provide a loophole around proximity control, potentially allowing people outside the approved viewing area for events, especially sports, in which distribution traditionally has been restricted by time and region. However, the practice of placeshifting is not unlike that of timeshifting, which has been upheld in courts across the world due to the personal nature of a timeshifted rebroadcast, which is deemed "non-infringing fair use". Furthermore, Sling Media's technology limits access to a single authorized user, which prevents unauthorized or multi-user access thereby maintaining the personal nature of the placeshifted content.

Broadcasting[edit]

Ironically, given the controversy, the retail Slingbox hardware has found an unexpected niche market in television broadcasting. Broadcast engineers at several TV stations have installed them at remote "towercam" locations to observe traffic and weather conditions. KPIX-TV in San Francisco has several connected with wireless networking, using EV-DO via a cellular network (mobile phone) provider. This costs only a few hundred dollars for each site, versus well over ten thousand for a setup with a remote pickup unit and auxiliary broadcast licenses. However, the system is not yet reliable or broadband enough to handle live remote broadcasts.

Cable TV providers are also using it to provide proof of performance for companies that run TV ads on their systems.[22][23][24] It is also used with Amateur television transmissions. There are also hosted Slingbox services where the slingbox and set top box are hosted in a data centre on behalf of the user. This means that the management of the devices is done by the host and that the user can access TV streams from their hosted Slingbox wherever, whenever and whatever device (PC, Mobile, TV) they want.[25]

Clip+Sling[edit]

During the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show, the firm announced a future feature named Clip+Sling. It allows users to share clips of their favorite TV shows with each other through a hosted Web service. The announcement was made during Leslie Moonves' keynote speech.[26][27]

On December 2, 2008, Sling Media announced the public launch of Sling.com, an online video entertainment destination. Users can go to Sling.com to watch clips, TV shows, films, news and sports. This includes video programming from over 90 content providers spanning 150 content brands. In addition to the on-demand offerings, Slingbox owners could connect to their Slingbox through the website, making their Slingboxes available without a software client download.[28]

However, Clip+Sling was never launched and Sling.com eventually became the home of the web-based Watch player.[29] This signaled Sling Media's intent at the time to migrate users from using desktop software to Sling.com to access to their Slingbox.[30]

Placeshifting Patent Litigation[edit]

In January 2013, EchoStar and Sling Media sued Belkin and Monsoon Multimedia for infringing on five patents related to placeshifting.[31] In March 2013, Sling Media also initiated a complaint with the ITC to block the importing of Belkin and Monsoon Media products[32] related to the @TV and Vulkano products, respectively. The ITC complaint also targeted chips from C2 Microsystems.

In May 2013, Belkin and Sling Media settled their portion of the suit.[33][34] In December 2013, the ITC closed out the case and barred Monsoon Multimedia products from being imported into the US.[35][36][37]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Engadget, July 18, 2005. The Engadget Interview: Blake Krikorian, CEO of Sling Media (Retrieved April 11, 2014)
  2. ^ PRESS RELEASE - EchoStar Announces Agreement to Acquire Sling Media, Inc. (Retrieved April 11, 2014)
  3. ^ GigaOM, January 12, 2009. Sling Team Leaving the Building (Retrieved April 18, 2014)
  4. ^ fuseproject website - Slingbox Personal Broadcaster (Retrieved April 11, 2014)
  5. ^ C|NET, September 26, 2007. Sling Media Slingbox SOLO Review (Retrieved April 11, 2014)
  6. ^ C|NET, September 25, 2008. Sling Media Slingbox Pro-HD review (Retrieved April 17, 2014)
  7. ^ Zatz Not Funny, April 14, 2011. New Slingbox 120 Launches (In India) (Retrieved April 17, 2014)
  8. ^ Place Shifting Enthusiasts - Slingbox Solo Freezing, Stuck Optimizing, Losing Connection? Check the Capacitors (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  9. ^ Place Shifting Enthusiasts - Slingbox Solo bulging Capcitors (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  10. ^ Using an HDMI video source with the Slingbox 500 (Retrieved April 11, 2014)
  11. ^ PC Mag, November 24, 2008. SlingCatcher Review & Rating (Retrieved April 13, 2014)
  12. ^ Test Freaks, April 22, 2009 SlingLink Turbo Single Port (Retrieved April 17, 2014)
  13. ^ a b Sling Media Website - SlingPlayer (Retrieved April 13, 2014)
  14. ^ Dish Network Support - Sling Adapter (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  15. ^ Dish Network - Dish Anywhere
  16. ^ PC Mag, January 31, 2013. Dish Network Hopper With Sling Review (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  17. ^ PC Mag, August 16, 2010. Dish Network ViP922 SlingLoaded DVR Review (Retrieved April 15, 2014)
  18. ^ Engadget, January 7, 2013. Dish Anywhere app delivers content on the go, Sling video feed from Hopper DVR (hands-on) (Retrieved April 15, 2014)
  19. ^ Arris MS4000 Datasheet (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  20. ^ CED Magazine (September 9, 2013) ARRIS Announces Whole Home Box with Sling Streaming
  21. ^ Sathyanarayana, S., The John Marshall Journal of Information Technology & Privacy Law (Vol. 25, Issue 1, Winter 2007) Slingbox: Copyright, Fair Use, and Access to Television Programming Anywhere in the World (Retrieved April 11, 2014)
  22. ^ The Slingbox Solution | Broadcasters adapt innovative online device for remote cam coverage
  23. ^ Broadcast EngineeringWHIZ-TV finds ENG role for Slingbox, wireless Ethernet bridge
  24. ^ CNET NetworksSan Francisco TV station Slings the news
  25. ^ "Watch Live US TV Online - Hosted Slingbox". mytv2me. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  26. ^ Jeremy Toeman (15 January 2007). "Sling Media shows Clip+Sling at CES2007: CBS Keynote video". LIVEdigitally. 
  27. ^ C|NET, November 1, 2007. Watch out YouTube: It's Clip + Sling video – CNET TV
  28. ^ Sling Media Website - Like to Watch? On-Demand Video Entertainment Experience, Sling.com launches. (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  29. ^ Sling Media Website - Sling Media to Demonstrate SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone and Slingbox HD Streaming on the Mac at Macworld
  30. ^ Gizmodo, January 6, 2009. Like to Watch? On-Demand Video Entertainment Experience, Sling.com launches.
  31. ^ C|NET, January 7, 2013. Sling Media sues Belkin, Monsoon for patent infringement (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  32. ^ Bloomberg, March 14, 2013. Echostar’s Sling Media Seeks to Block Imports of Web TV Devices (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  33. ^ Zatz Not Funny, May 22, 2013. Belkin & Sling Media Settle Patent Infringement Suit (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  34. ^ Law360, May 21, 2013. Belkin Settles Out Of Slingbox ITC Patent Probe (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  35. ^ Zatz Not Funny, December 6, 2013. Sling Prevails; Monsoon Placeshifters Barred From US Shores (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  36. ^ ITC 337 Blog, December 3, 2013.ITC Issues Limited Exclusion Order And Cease And Desist Orders In Certain Electronic Devices Having Placeshifting Or Display Replication Functionality (337-TA-878) (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  37. ^ Law360, December 6, 2013. Video Streaming Cos. Hit With Import Bans In Slingbox Row (Retrieved April 18, 2014)

External links[edit]