Q. I’ve had Sling TV for over a year and really like it. But I hear they are raising their price. Is this true? Why on earth would they do that now? — Sheila, Dayton, Ohio.
Sheila, it’s true. The live streaming service owned by Dish has raised the price of its Orange basic programming package from $20 a month to $25 a month. The new price is now effective for new customers while existing customers will get the increase in a month or so.
The Orange plan, which includes ESPN and more than 30 cable networks, has cost $20 a month since Sling TV launched in January 2015. The monthly fee, which is considerably lower than what pay TV services charge for any type of package, is a major reason why Sling TV has accumulated more than two million subscribers.
But like the pay TV services, Sling TV can’t possibly make a profit by charging such a low rate indefinitely. Programming costs continue to escalate and Sling needs additional revenue to offset the never-ending increases.
The same goes for other live streaming services such as DIRECTV Now, which is now charging $10 a month for the first three months of its $35-a-month package. AT&T, which owns DIRECTV Now, will eventually (if not very soon) have to raise monthly fees or risk a significant financial loss.
The live streamers have charged the attractive rates up to now to lure consumers who are weary of pay TV operators raising their fees every year. But the time has come to balance the pendulum a bit.
By the way, Sling TV’s Blue package, which includes more than 40 channels including live network feeds in select markets as well as several Fox channels, will remain the same for now. In addition, you still will be able to purchase both Orange and Blue for $40 a month.
To further soften the blow of today’s price increase, Sling is also permitting returning customers to access more than 100 hours of free TV shows and movies without restarting their subscription.
And the streamer is allowing customers to order the following channels on a la carte basis. (You don’t need to purchase a base Sling plan to order these channels.)
Showtime: $10 a month
CuriosityStream: $6 a month
Stingray Karaoke: $7 a month
Dove Channel: $5 a month
Outside TV Features: $5 a month
Up Faith & Family: $5 a month
Pantaya: $6 a month
NBA League Pass: $28.99 a month
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— Phillip Swann