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Sling TV's Web TV Subscriber Numbers Keep Growing, Now Around 250,000

So there's at least some demand for a "skinny bundle" of pay TV over the Internet.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Sling TV, the “over-the-top” service that delivers pay TV over the Web, has around 250,000 paying subscribers, according to industry executives familiar with its performance.

If you assume that the vast majority of those subscribers are paying the service’s base rate of $20 a month, that would mean the service, owned by satellite TV operator Dish Network, is generating more than $5 million a month.

Sling, which offers a free 30-day trial, has been open to the public since early February; in March, Re/code reported that Sling had at least 100,000 sign-ups. For context: Hulu, the streaming video service that offers repeats of broadcast TV shows and its own original programming, has 9 million subscribers. And Netflix, which offers its own mix of originals plus repeats, has about 41 million subscribers in the U.S.

In March, Sling apologized for a well-publicized failure on one of its highest-traffic nights — the semi-finals of the NCAA March Madness tournament; the company said it had been overwhelmed by “extreme sign-ups.”

I’ve asked a Dish Network rep for comment, but I don’t expect to get one.

Industry executives say the new data point is interesting and encouraging, but they’re not nearly ready to assess Sling’s performance. Sling offers a “skinny bundle” of 22 cable TV channels, including ESPN, CNN and AMC, which stream live over the Web to phones, tablets and connected TVs. Depending on whom you believe, the service is meant to target Millennials who’ve never signed up for pay TV, or is aimed at cable TV “cord-cutters.” Perhaps both.

Apple is trying to put together a service that would do something similar, but would also offer access to broadcast TV networks like ABC and CBS. Apple hasn’t signed up network partners for that one yet, and TV industry executives believe it may not launch this year. Sony is also offering a Web TV subscription service, but so far it is only available in three U.S. cities.

This article originally appeared on

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