For TV fans who don’t want to pay for full cable packages, Dish Network‘s recently-launched Sling TV service is an attractive option. For $20 per month, Sling subscribers gain access to more than 20 channels, including ESPN, CNN, and the Food Network.
With that package, Sling is one of several services at the forefront of a digital TV revolution; however, it seems as if only a limited number of people will be able to catch the wave. According to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Geetha Ranganathan, Sling TV will have a two million subscriber cap, and if it exceeds that number, the companies providing its content may have the right to pull their shows.
According to Ranganathan, the subscriber cap is way for cable companies and programmers to ensure digital TV options like Sling don’t take over the market. “They want it to be a complementary product and not a competing product that cannibalizes their core business,” she said. “They don’t want it to become too popular.”
Sling TV is meant to target the cord-cutters who would otherwise not sign up for cable at all, but if the service’s package becomes too enticing for existing cable subscribers (especially now that it offers the option to add HBO for an additional $15 per month), those subscribers will drop their current plans and switch to Sling. That’s exactly the situation the cable industry is trying to avoid, and limiting the number of Sling TV subscribers is an effective control.
A big question this decision raises concerns the mentality of cord-cutters. One of the main issues Sling’s target audience has with cable is that it is an inflexible model that forces consumers to purchase channels they don’t want or need. If services like Sling begin to add in more restrictions, will that turn away potential users?
It will be some time before we can truly get an answer to that question. A few months ago, Sling’s membership reportedly hovered around 100,000, so there’s still ample room for new subscribers before the two million user cap becomes an issue.