Today, Sling TV announced the launch of its free ad-supported streaming TV service, Sling Freestream, which offers access to over 210 channels and more than 41,000 on-demand movies and TV shows across a variety of different genres, including news, sports, crime, home improvement, cooking and more.
At launch, Sling Freestream is available through the Sling TV app on all Roku devices. It’s also rolling out across LG, Samsung and Vizio devices. In the coming months, the FAST service will launch across all of Sling TV’s supported devices, such as iOS devices, Android devices, Fire TV devices, Apple TV, Xbox and more.
With Freestream, users can stream a number of free channels like ABC News Live, Architectural Digest, CBS News, ESPN On Demand, VH1 I Love Reality, as well as programming like “Family Feud,” “Forensic Files,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” Anthony Bourdain’s “A Cook’s Tour” and “The Walking Dead Universe,” among other titles.
Over the next few months, Sling Freestream will continue to add to its free content library, nearly doubling the number of channels to over 400 and expanding to more than 42,000 on-demand titles, the company told TechCrunch. Other future plans for non-paying subscribers include access to “Freeview Weekends,” an offering for Sling TV paying subscribers that allows them to watch premium content from Showtime, MGM+ and other add-on subscriptions. Sling TV will also launch new features in the future, which include universal search functionality, enhanced channel surfing, updated guide filters and autoplay capabilities.
“Sling Freestream is a great new service that helps meet consumers’ evolving needs. We know some people want free content, some may want a year-round paid subscription, while others may want to subscribe for certain events or shows. We have coupled world-class content with the option to easily flex in and out of premium pay TV, creating a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience,” Gary Schanman, Sling TV EVP and Sling TV president, noted in a statement.
Schanman is confident that Sling Freestream will catch the eye of advertisers looking to expand and “reach across a wider range of streaming customers,” he said. “Sling Freestream provides a premium advertising experience that benefits viewers and advertisers alike,” Schanman added.
Launching a free ad-supported streaming TV service is a wise move for the company as the streaming wars continue to heat up. Even streaming giant Netflix has turned to advertising to grow its business. Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery have mentioned plans to launch their own FAST options in the future. The FAST industry is positioned to drive $4.1 billion in ad revenue and reach 216 million monthly active users in 2023, per nScreenMedia.
Last month, Schanman told TechCrunch in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show that free content is a valuable part of the company’s streaming strategy. “Free is part of our thoughts about how we think about that engagement with the customer. We want a lifelong relationship with the subscriber where they see value in what we provide — and [free content is] a piece of that,” he told us.
This isn’t the first time Sling TV has offered free content. Sling TV already offers a free tier called Sling Free, which provides over 150 free live channels and more than 40,000 on-demand titles. However, with the launch of Sling Freestream, Sling TV is adding 130 more channels to its free content offering. Plus, unlike Sling Free, Sling Freestream doesn’t require users to create an account.
The announcement of a new FAST service comes on the heels of Sling TV revealing a loss of 77,000 subscribers in Q4 2022. Although parent company Dish has yet to disclose financials for the fourth quarter, it’s our guess that Sling TV isn’t making a desirable amount of revenue. Sling TV recently increased the price of its live TV streaming service, which now costs $40 per month.