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 SlingTV, Slingbox M1, Slingplayer apps for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire, Dish Sling Adapter, Dish XiP 913, ARRIS MS4000
Employees 275+
Website sling.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 initial 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, along with Bhupen Shah,[1] who had the relationships to help establish Sling's presence in Bangalore. The idea for Sling originated during the 2002 Major League Baseball season, when the Krikorian brothers, who are dedicated San Francisco Giants fans, often traveled far from home, and faced missing the best games of the season.[2]

On September 24, 2007, EchoStar announced an agreement to acquire Sling Media for approximately $380 million USD.[3] Blake and Jason left the company in January 2009.[4]

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,[5] 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".[6] 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.[7] The Slingbox SOLO was also later repackaged as the Slingbox 120 for special vertical and international markets.[8]

An unknown number of the third generation Slingboxes were susceptible to the capacitor plague. While many enthusiasts replaced these capacitors on their own,[9][10] 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 was positionined a platform for next-generation Smart TV capabilities. In addition to placeshifting, the Slingbox 500 included 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 had Wi-Fi networking and HDMI passthrough capabilities. However, because of restrictive HDCP DRM, Sling still recommends that customers use component cables for placeshifting.[11]

Fifth generation - Slingbox M1[edit]

In July 2014, Sling launched the award-winning[12] Slingbox M1 to replace the Slingbox 350. With the introduction of this Slingbox, the entire line of Slingbox hardware now support Wi-Fi connectivity. In addition, users were now able to configure a Slingbox M1 using the Slingplayer for iPad, iPhone and Android phone, as well as the Slingplayer for Desktop that was reintroduced at the same time.[13]

SlingTV[edit]

Also introduced in July 2014, SlingTV is a free upgrade to the Slingbox 500 that provides a graphical user interface and information overlays for living room TV viewing in addition to providing place shifting capabilities. The interface also provides recommendations based on aggregate viewing data, popularity and social activity. It was released in September 2014 to current Slingbox 500 customers.[14][13][15]

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.[16]

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.[17] With the release of a Wi-Fi-enabled Slingbox 500, the product was discontinued and is no longer supported.

Slingplayer Apps[edit]

Viewing on the Desktop - Slingplayer for Desktop and Watch[edit]

When the original Slingbox Classic was launched, customers used free downloadable software for Windows or Macintosh to access video that was streamed from the Slingbox. That application was phased out with the introduction of the Slingbox Watch website, which utilized an NPAPI plug-in for video streaming. Because of the discontinuation of the NPAPI support on Chrome and demand from customers, Sling reintroduced the Slingplayer for Desktop application for Windows and Apple Mac OS X with the launch of the Slingbox M1.[18] However, the relaunched desktop application is only compatible with the Slingbox M1 models. In addition, Sling has also begun forcing video advertisements before playing a Slingbox when using the Watch website.

Slingplayer for Mobile[edit]

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.[19] 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 streaming 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 were several native apps for Connected Devices that can view and control a remote Slingbox. Those devices included:[20]

These apps have been deprecated as of July 2014 and will no longer be supported.[20]

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.[28] 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.[29][30][31] 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.[32]

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.[33][34]

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.[35]

However, Clip+Sling was never launched and Sling.com eventually became the home of the web-based Watch player.[36] This signaled Sling Media's intent at the time to migrate users from using desktop software to Sling.com to access to their Slingbox.[36]

Placeshifting Patent Litigation[edit]

In January 2013, EchoStar and Sling Media sued Belkin and Monsoon Multimedia for infringing on five patents related to placeshifting.[37] In March 2013, Sling Media also initiated a complaint with the ITC to block the importing of Belkin and Monsoon Media products[38] 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.[39][40] In December 2013, the ITC closed out the case and barred Monsoon Multimedia products from being imported into the US.[41][42][43]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Preeth J., Techcircle.in, April 18, 2011. “India Is Very Critical For Sling Media”: Founder Bhupen Shah (Retrieved July 22, 2014)
  2. ^ Engadget, July 18, 2005. The Engadget Interview: Blake Krikorian, CEO of Sling Media (Retrieved April 11, 2014)
  3. ^ Schonfeld, Erick. TechCrunch, September 26, 2007. Sling Media Sells Out to EchoStar (Retrieved July 17, 2014)
  4. ^ GigaOM, January 12, 2009. Sling Team Leaving the Building (Retrieved April 18, 2014)
  5. ^ fuseproject website - Slingbox Personal Broadcaster (Retrieved April 11, 2014)
  6. ^ C|NET, September 26, 2007. Sling Media Slingbox SOLO Review (Retrieved April 11, 2014)
  7. ^ C|NET, September 25, 2008. Sling Media Slingbox Pro-HD review (Retrieved April 17, 2014)
  8. ^ Zatz Not Funny, April 14, 2011. New Slingbox 120 Launches (In India) (Retrieved April 17, 2014)
  9. ^ Place Shifting Enthusiasts - Slingbox Solo Freezing, Stuck Optimizing, Losing Connection? Check the Capacitors (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  10. ^ Place Shifting Enthusiasts - Slingbox Solo bulging Capcitors (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  11. ^ Using an HDMI video source with the Slingbox 500 (Retrieved July 17, 2014)
  12. ^ Greenwald, Will. PCMag, July 23, 2014. Sling Media Slingbox M1 (Retrieved July 24, 2014)
  13. ^ a b Baumgartner, Jeff. Multichannel News, July 15, 2015. Sling Media Targets The Mainstream (Retrieved July 17, 2014)
  14. ^ "Introducing SlingTV!". Sling Media. September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  15. ^ "SlingTV Deployment Update". Sling Media. September 3, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  16. ^ PC Mag, November 24, 2008. SlingCatcher Review & Rating (Retrieved April 13, 2014)
  17. ^ Test Freaks, April 22, 2009 SlingLink Turbo Single Port (Retrieved April 17, 2014)
  18. ^ Roettgers, Janko. GigaOM, July 15, 2014. Sling revamps entry-level place shifting box, adds apps and TV guide to premium model (Retrieved July 17, 2014)
  19. ^ Sling Website - Slingplayer (Retrieved July 15, 2014)
  20. ^ a b Sling Support - Slingbox models compatible with SlingPlayer for Connected Devices (Retrieved July 20, 2014)
  21. ^ Dish Network Support - Sling Adapter (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  22. ^ Dish Network - Dish Anywhere
  23. ^ PC Mag, January 31, 2013. Dish Network Hopper With Sling Review (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  24. ^ PC Mag, August 16, 2010. Dish Network ViP922 SlingLoaded DVR Review (Retrieved April 15, 2014)
  25. ^ Engadget, January 7, 2013. Dish Anywhere app delivers content on the go, Sling video feed from Hopper DVR (hands-on) (Retrieved April 15, 2014)
  26. ^ Arris MS4000 Datasheet (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  27. ^ CED Magazine (September 9, 2013) ARRIS Announces Whole Home Box with Sling Streaming
  28. ^ 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)
  29. ^ The Slingbox Solution | Broadcasters adapt innovative online device for remote cam coverage
  30. ^ Broadcast EngineeringWHIZ-TV finds ENG role for Slingbox, wireless Ethernet bridge
  31. ^ CNET NetworksSan Francisco TV station Slings the news
  32. ^ "Watch Live US TV Online - Hosted Slingbox". mytv2me. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  33. ^ Jeremy Toeman (15 January 2007). "Sling Media shows Clip+Sling at CES2007: CBS Keynote video". LIVEdigitally. 
  34. ^ C|NET, November 1, 2007. Watch out YouTube: It's Clip + Sling video – CNET TV
  35. ^ Sling Media Website - Like to Watch? On-Demand Video Entertainment Experience, Sling.com launches. (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  36. ^ a b Covert, Adrian. Gizmodo, January 6, 2009. Sling Updates: HD Streaming Coming to Mac, iPhone Sling App Scheduled for Q1
  37. ^ C|NET, January 7, 2013. Sling Media sues Belkin, Monsoon for patent infringement (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  38. ^ Bloomberg, March 14, 2013. Echostar’s Sling Media Seeks to Block Imports of Web TV Devices (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  39. ^ Zatz Not Funny, May 22, 2013. Belkin & Sling Media Settle Patent Infringement Suit (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  40. ^ Law360, May 21, 2013. Belkin Settles Out Of Slingbox ITC Patent Probe (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  41. ^ Zatz Not Funny, December 6, 2013. Sling Prevails; Monsoon Placeshifters Barred From US Shores (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  42. ^ 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)
  43. ^ Law360, December 6, 2013. Video Streaming Cos. Hit With Import Bans In Slingbox Row (Retrieved April 18, 2014)

External links[edit]