|Limited liability company|
|Robert Johnson Jr., CEO|
Sky Angel was a Christian television show provider. Its service is specialized in offering Christian media services, along with other channels which it deemed to be family-friendly programming. First established as a satellite television service, it migrated to a distribution similar to IPTV in 2008.
Sky Angel was formed in 1980 by Robert Johnson Sr., who aimed to create a faith-oriented television service that would be free of the objectionable content he had found on television. Johnson obtained an allocation of 8 direct-broadcast satellite frequencies for the service, and reached a deal with Dish Network to use space on its EchoStar III satellite. Sky Angel's lineup would consist primarily of religious networks, along with other contemporary television networks which the service considers to be family-oriented. Carrying around 30 channels in its lineup, Sky Angel reached around 115,000 subscribers, mostly within the Central United States.
After the company passed on investing close to $400 million in manufacturing a replacement for the aging EchoStar III satellite, Sky Angel partnered with NeuLion in 2007 to develop a new over-the-top IPTV-based platform for the service. The new IPTV service would offer additional features such as an increased channel capacity, support for DVRs, and the ability for Sky Angel to offer internet and mobile television services in the future.
In September 2012, Sky Angel launched its "Sky Angel 2.0" platform, offering a traditional set-top box-based service of religious channels, and "Faith Everywhere", which adds web streaming of its lineup through an iPad app. Sky Angel also introduced a new spin-off service known as FAVE TV ("Family and Values Entertainment")—a non-religious service which aims to carry "mainstream" and "family-friendly" television channels. In June 2013, the Faith Everywhere service became available through an app for Roku streaming players. In Fall 2013 Sky Angel announced it would no longer offer service on Roku effective November 1, 2013.
On December 10, 2013 Sky Angel announced the end of its IPTV and web service effective January 14, 2014. Angel One, Angel Two and KTV will still be produced by Sky Angel U.S. LLC and will be distributed via DISH Network. CEO Robert W. Johnson, Jr, said in a farewell letter to current subscribers, "Although we have fought the good fight and endured years of losses, we have reached the point where we must suspend the service. . . We want to thank you for your support and your prayers over the years and pray that God will bestow great blessing on you and your family in the years to come."
Programming and services
Sky Angel previously offered two programming packages for its IPTV service: the base "Faith Package", which consisted of primarily faith-based broadcasters (including various Evangelical Protestant and Roman Catholic broadcasters, and accompanying video on demand services) while the "Family Values Pack" adds a selection of general entertainment, sports, and specialty channels. Sky Angel also offered a subscription "WebTV" package, which includes a selection of around 35 of the service's faith-based channels available for live streaming on the Sky Angel website, along with video on demand content.
With the launch of the "Sky Angel 2.0" platform in 2012, the packages were changed to "Faith TV" (which offers Sky Angel's religious-oriented channels through a set-top box) and "Faith Everywhere" (which adds access to the channels through the Sky Angel website and apps). Concurrently, Sky Angel spun off its non-denominational channels into a new service known as FAVE TV (Family and Values Entertainment).
Sky Angel's switch to an over-the-top IPTV service led to several major carriage disputes, which led to concerns over the definition of Sky Angel's service under the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In 2009, C-SPAN was pulled from Sky Angel after being on its IPTV service for 2 days. In November 2012, Sky Angel filed an antitrust lawsuit against the network claiming that its owners (a consortium of major television providers) pulled its programming from Sky Angel to put the service at a disadvantage against its conventional rivals. The court dismissed the case without prejudice, believing that Sky Angel's case did not have enough evidence to justify its claims that C-SPAN's owners were trying to enforce a monopoly position. C-SPAN denied Sky Angel's arguments, and claimed the removal was for contractual reasons relating to IPTV. Sky Angel, in its filing with the court, showed that CSPAN was already streaming its channels over the web to the public free of charge.
In April 2010, Discovery Communications announced that it would pull its channels from Sky Angel in response to unspecified concerns surrounding how its programming was delivered. In response, Sky Angel filed a program access complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, alleging that Discovery was discriminating against the service by allowing other major cable providers to offer access to its programming over the internet (either through a TV Everywhere service, or through Dish Network's Slingbox-based set-top boxes). The FCC denied Sky Angel's request for a standstill on the case, but the FCC Media Bureau began to dispute whether Sky Angel qualified as a "multichannel video programming distributor" (MVPD) under the regulations because it does not have a physical "transmission path" in its infrastructure. The Commission, along with allies such as Google, acknowledged that making any ruling on whether an over-the-top service qualifies as an MVPD may have a major effect on the internet video industry as a whole.
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