Reports that streaming TV service Sling TV is launching its own TV tuner box are now confirmed, thanks to the appearance of a landing page for the “AirTV Player” which has popped up on Sling TV’s website overnight. The new device promises the ability to receive local TV channels over the air through a digital antenna, combined with Sling TV’s streaming service and, optionally, Netflix.
The page was first spotted by Dave Zatz of Zatz Not Funny!, who has been tracking the Air TV’s development throughout the year.
Earlier this summer, he found product listing pages for the new media player on sites like Amazon and others. In addition, based on trademark applications Zatz had previously spotted, the AirTV device itself looked to be a collaboration between EchoStar’s Sling Media subsidiary and Dish’s Sling TV.
On Sling TV’s new landing page for AirTV, a “Learn More” button redirects visitors to the AirTV website. Here, the site’s legal information confirms the “AirTV Player” and logo are copyrighted by EchoStar, backing up Zatz’s earlier findings.
The AirTV Player itself is an interesting device, as it offers a workaround for the problem of gaining access to local channels – something that hinders some consumers from taking the plunge and cutting the cord with pay TV.
Though you can access local channels for free over the air via an antenna, adding them to a streaming TV service like Sling’s means negotiating on rights with the various broadcasters.
Sling TV has scored some limited rights to broadcast channels. For example, it offers a “Broadcast Extra” streaming package that delivers local programming from ABC to Sling Orange subscribers, and it offers Fox in select markets as part of its core lineup in its Sling Blue service. However, this is still a far cry from what you could watch if you had your own antenna.
That’s where the AirTV box would come in.
Essentially, AirTV offers a way to combine the free broadcast networks accessed by a TV tuner with Sling TV’s streaming service all in one interface. The AirTV landing page notes that you can watch Netflix from the device, too.
“With the AirTV Player, cut the cord and keep the TV experience,” the website reads. “You’ll have a single platform for watching Sling TV, Netflix, local channels, and more. Plus, one easy-to-use remote with voice support for your AirTV Player, local OTA channels, and sound system,” it says.
The box itself is a white-and-blue affair that ships with a colorful voice-control remote, which includes a Netflix button. A second “Google” button hints at the device’s Android-powered roots, but the landing page for AirTV doesn’t explain how Google is integrated, or what the button does.
No further details on the device’s internals or its software are provided online, but a brief FAQ on the AirTV website provides a few more tidbits of information.
For starters, the device challenges the Tablo DVR, which also offers a way to watch local channels, by ditching subscription fees. That is, Sling TV and Netflix are available on a subscription basis, but unlike Tablo, the AirTV has no monthly fees.
The device also includes a one-year warranty, needs a minimum download speed of 3 Mbps for SD video or 5 Mbps for HD video, and connects via an HDMI cable with your TV. You’ll also need one AirTV device per TV, the FAQ indicates. And, in addition to voice control, the AirTV remote can also control your TV’s volume and power.
Sling TV has not yet responded to requests for comment, but it’s likely the company plans to formally launch the AirTV at the upcoming CES event.