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Sling Media co-founder and CEO Blake Krikorian says his company made the decision to sell its product independently and without a service plan because there was “no way in hell” the company would survive if it had licensed its technology to cable companies or other providers and had to wait on them to roll it out and market it properly. He also skewered the approach of many mobile operators to selling mobile data services, saying they approach them like gym memberships: sell consumers a service with a monthly fee, then hope they never use it.
He said that the company’s discussions with mobile operators have focused on trying to get them to change this strategy and bring Slingbox use into their data plans. For instance, he’s proposed that operators offer users a certain amount of Sling time per month as a part of their data tariff, so that the place-shifted video doesn’t count against transfer caps or fall foul of fair use approaches. 3 UK, for instance, offers Sling as part of its X-Series data and content offering.
On consumers’ buying preferences for mobile content: Consumers don’t want to pay multiple times for the same content and they also don’t want to pay premium prices just to access their own content on a mobile device. He asked the audience how many people were interested in paying AT&T’s high prices to download songs from its Napster (NSDQ: NAPS) mobile service; only one hand was spotted.
On SlingPlayer and the Nokia (NYSE: NOK) N95: Krikorian said it’s “absolutely wicked” because of its TV-Out functionality, which he uses to watch his home cable and DVR programming on hotel TVs when he travels.
On the Echostar (NSDQ: SATS) acquisition and what it holds for the future: Despite Sling’s resistance to dealing with service providers, the Echostar deal was a good fit. Echostar is considering spinning out all its technology units, including Sling, so things in the future may not be all that different than before the buyout.
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