It’s been about five years since Echostar acquired Sling Media, but the company — which revolutionized place-shifting technology that allows users to stream live TV anywhere, on PCs, mobile devices, and tablets — continues to innovate. The latest innovation includes capabilities that take advantage of secondary devices that TV viewers are using while watching TV, as well as media-sharing features that go beyond the typical TV watching experience.
Sling customers who have bought the most recent generation of its products will have the ability to now sync photos and videos through a connected USB drive. Specifically, those customers will a new Slingbox 500 will be able to connect their existing media to the device, navigate it with Slingbox mobile apps, and view it on the TV. Users can also make that media available in the cloud with the SlingSync technology, which allows them to archive and store the content remotely.
In addition, Sling is releasing the Slingbox Companion, a second-screen social TV app that will be rolled out for Slingbox 500 customers, but will be available for Slingbox 350 users further down the line. The app is focused around content discovery — specifically, helping users to find shows based on their interests. The app then works like a remote, connecting to the Slingbox to choose a selected show.
While Sling has rolled out its own new products, the company is also working with pay TV providers — for instance, sister company Dish — to make their set-top boxes Sling-enabled. And those Sling-enabled STBs and DVRs carry with them some of the new features that Sling is announcing in its standalone products. For instance, the focus on discovery and media sharing, which are available as part of the new Dish Hopper with Sling, which was announced at CES yesterday.
Anyway, Sling continues to innovate, which is fun, because really innovative companies in the video space are rare to find. And that Sling continues to do so while also part of a bigger corporation — a bigger corporation in the video delivery space, of all things — is a breath of fresh air.
Am I editorializing? Probably. Is that so bad? Hopefully not.