One thing that has been the Achilles heel of over-the-top, internet-delivered services has been the lack of local network stations. A large part of the population still likes to watch local news and other local programming, but because of distribution agreements (or lack thereof), most OTT services such as Sling, Hulu, and DirecTV Now focus mainly on delivering nationally broadcast channels.
But that’s not to say a fix for the missing piece hasn’t been in the works. Digital broadcasts have been around since the DTV conversion of ’09, and companies such as Amazon have bundled a DTV antenna along with Fire TV devices in order for customers to have a way to keep getting those local OTA channels.
Officially launched today, Sling TV’s new AirTV Player provides access to local broadcast networks via a connected antenna that can be stored as channels within a personalized guide. The Android-based player also supports 2160p 4k Ultra HD streaming video. Of course, local channels can be obstructed and are subject to interference, a problem for many residencies nationwide.
The AirTV Player with OTA AirTV Adapter sells for $129.99, or, customers can get the streaming-only AirTV Player for $99.99. Those who purchase the AirTV Player (both new and existing customers) will also get $50 in Sling TV credit.
For those not sure about whether or not to get the local channel “AirTV” adapter, it can be purchased separately for $39.99.
“We have set a high standard with our device partners to continually improve Sling TV’s performance,” said Ben Weinberger, chief product officer of Sling TV.
In addition to the launch of AirTV, Sling also announced the “Optimized for Sling TV” certification program, of which the AirTV and Xiaomi’s Mi Box are a part of. The Mi Box sells for $69 and includes support for 4K, 60fps, Google voice search and Google Cast. and HDR10 content.
According to Sling, the program includes the AirTV Player and Xiaomi’s Mi Box, which may use the “Optimized for Sling TV” logo on future packaging and will be recognized on the Sling TV website.
“A quality experience is a priority for us, and as a launch partner for the program, we have been working closely with Sling TV’s engineers to develop a great experience that highlights Sling TV’s capabilities,” said Hugo Barra, Vice President of International of Xiaomi.
Sling announced the upcoming device a couple weeks ago, along with news of a Netflix app for Sling TV. Dish will be displaying the AirTV Player and new services at CES 2017 in Las Vegas.