Sling Media, the TV place shifting company (retails Slingbox, which allows people to watch cable and satellite TV on their laptops or phones while away from home) has formed what it calls a media entertainment group, and has appointed two NYC-based digital media veterans to head it: Jason Hirschhorn and Benjamin White. This group will be responsible for creating “digital entertainment experiences for and beyond the Slingbox community”, and that’s the extent to which the company would go, both in the statement and brief interviews I did today with CEO Blake Krikorian and Hirschhorn.
Hirschhorn till recently was the Chief Digital Officer at MTV Networks (NYSE: VIA). White was VP of Digital Media for MTV and most recently oversaw the launch of MTV Overdrive. At Sling, Hirschhorn will be the President of the group, while White will be the Chief Creative Officer, both reporting to Krikorian.
Sling has been gaining momentum of late, and has raised close to $60 million in funding, and has strategic investors such as Liberty Media (NSDQ: LINTA) and EchoStar (NSDQ: SATS). The new group plans to work with media companies, some of which have raised some half-voices of concerns and done some posturing on the rights issues. The executives didn’t specify how, but I would see some pointers in how Tivo has been trying to develop itself into a content platform company.
Krikorian did mention that the idea with the group is to help develop software and hardware-based apps in conjunction with media companies, beyond just distributing their content through Slingbox. Hopefully this move will soothe some half-fears among media companies about technologies such as Sling, as well as other rival software companies such as Orb, SageTV and others.
Also, conceivably, the company could be trying to broaden its user base from just travelers using this place-shifting service, to actually becoming a hub in the digital home, of moving content around from various devices. No one has cracked that nut yet, though Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) will try soon (though its upcoming iTV device) and Sony (NYSE: SNE) is trying with its LocationFree TV.
In a more direct sense, this new move from Sling also brings the “geek jocks” out of the garage (an evolved and rich one nonetheless), and into the tough world of media business.
— Industry Moves: Jason Hirschhorn Leaves MTV Networks; Nick Lehman Interim Digital Head
— Sling Media Announces First Major Mobile Deal; Will Be On Some 3 Group Handsets
— SlingPlayer Mobile: More Disruption From Sling Media
— MLB Isn’t Too Thrilled With Sling Media
— Slingbox Phobia: Fear Of Place Shifting; Affects TV Execs, Advertisers