Sling TV is planning to offer its first-ever pay-per-view (PPV) event, the much anticipated UFC grudge match that features a pair of light heavyweights. UFC 214: Cormier v. Jones 2 features current champ Daniel Cormier against ex-champ Jon Jones who last met in 2015 at UFC 182.
Although the event will draw a decent following, it’s not likely to strain Sling TVs delivery technology, which has withstood tougher tests during March Madness, the NCAA Men’s basketball championship tournament. The fight’s pricetag -- $60 – also may reduce demand. It’s available to Sling TV subscribers at any tier.
But, the PPV play is a first and will potentially open up Sling TV to more opportunities down the road, which could be crucial to its growth. Sling TV is estimated to have about 1.7 million subscribers, far fewer than parent company Dish Network has lost over the past several years. In Q1 2015, the company had 13.84 million pay-TV subs. In Q1 2017, it was down to 12.17 million and roughly 1.36 million Sling TV subs.
Still, PPV on Sling could drive some additional viewers to sign up.
“Since we launched in 2015, we have focused on putting customers first, while pushing boundaries no other live OTT service has gone near,” said Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV. “Integrating UFC 214 directly into the Sling TV experience is the next step in Sling TV becoming a true cable replacement.”
Sling TV has had a busy week. In addition to the PPV bout, it also has added EPIX Drive-In – a repository of classic films and documentaries – to Sling Orange and Sling Blue; introduced a EPIX – an add-on that costs $5 per month to customers who subscribe to a base service and includes movies and original series like “Graves,” “Berlin Station” and more; and added Reelz, available in Hollywood Extra for Sling Orange and Sling Blue customers, REELZ brings more movies, specials and shows like “The Kennedys” and “Autopsy: The Last Hours Of…” to Sling TV.
Sling TV currently is the biggest player in the virtual MVPD space, a space that still remains significantly behind the SVOD space in terms of popularity with consumers.
Jim O’Neill is Principal Analyst and Strategic Media Consultant for Ooyala. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn