Sling Media chief: I see “dead bodies”

January 7, 2007

Sling Media rocked the media industry two years ago with the Slingbox, a television set top gadget that let viewers “place-shift” or view their cable, satellite TV or shows from digital video recorders from just about any wirelessly connected device outside of the home, anywhere.

They return to the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week with an announcement expected on Monday that it will begin selling a device that aims to improve the home TV viewing experience.

A new device, the SlingCatcher, will let viewers send living room TV streams to different rooms in the home, clip and send video from on-air shows to friends and view media stored on PCs or on Web sites like YouTube on living room TVs. The gadget goes on sale some time in the middle of the year at around $200.

Sling Media co-founder Blake Krikorian spoke with us ahead of the show and spoke about why the road to connecting PCs to TVs are “littered with dead bodies.”

Reuters: Connecting PCs to TVs is expected to be a big topic at the show. But time and again companies with deep pockets, notably Microsoft, have failed to ignite mass market interest. How is your device any different?

Krikorian: The road is littered with dead bodies in this area. One of the reasons is that these products are giving consumers a subset of the Internet video experience theyre looking for. For example, the thing really compelling with media on the Internet is its totality, its diversity. Stuff I find really exciting? Maybe I want to go to YouTube, or ESPN Motion.

Most of these products, and even the rumored device from Apple, are not giving the Internet video experience in an uncompromised fashion. Maybe it will connect to the iTunes service, or a couple of different Web sites that have been reformatted for the TV, or certain videos in formats and not others. Thats one major reason why they fail.

Sling MediaWith SlingCatcher youre able to wirelessly project anything you have on your laptop, any type of media, any Web site, or Web-based video and project it wirelessly at the push of a button onto your television set. I can go to any site, any video content, any formatted content and get it to play on my big screen TV. Thats a huge difference between what were doing and what others are doing.

Reuters: Tell us about some of the new features available on the SlingCatcher, especially one feature you call “Clip+Sling”.

Krikorian:
It’s a quantum leap to enable mainstream people to watch something, hit a button, clip it and pass to a friend. We’re focused on premium professional content. It’s about peoplewatching TV, seeing something interesting and very easily share that clip with friends. (Viewers can send clips of shows that are stored on Sling’s Web site. After sending an E-mail containing a link to the clip, recipients can view the clip.)

Reuters: Won’t that raise copyright issues, especially if the clips are stored on your servers?

Krikorian:
What youre going to see is partnerships with many of these operators (program owners and networks). The question (of copyright infringement) will be moot. No one sat down to work with the networks and content owners. What we want to do is work with them from day one. All these companies know that all their content is being chopped up already and being streamed and posted all over the place and they have no ability to monetize that. Its happening without them.

What were proposing is to show them a path to further monetize it.  

(Photos: Sling Media)

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