EchoStar said it will acquire Sling Media in a deal worth $380 million in cash and options, and intends to spin off "most" of its technology and infrastructure assets to create two separate publicly-traded companies.
EchoStar is exploring a corporate restructuring that would keep Dish Network as its consumer-based satellite pay TV arm while a new wholesale arm would include EchoStar’s set-top box design and manufacturing, international operations and fixed satellite services provider businesses.
The tax-free split, if approved, would "unlock additional value," chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen stated. "Each company would be able to separately pursue the strategies that best suit its respective long-term interests."
Ergen added that the spin-off would also allow employee incentives to be tied to their respective company’s performance, and improve opportunities to develop and finance expansion plans.
For his part, Sling Media CEO Blake Krikorian tells AP he’s "psyched" that Ergen is buying the start-up he founded with his brother Jason, and reassures PaidContent they will remain operator-agnostic: "We expect very little change to our business except that we have even deeper pockets, and access to other core technologies."
Krikorian & Co. have been expanding beyond the Slingbox hardware business, licensing its software and technology to DirecTV to enable streaming of Sunday NFL games this season. Sling is also pitching cable operators, as Sling’s VP of marketing Rich Buchanan explained to CableFAX executive editor Mike Grebb here.
Former MTVN digital execs Jason Hirschhorn and Ben White were hired to launch Sling’s entertainment arm late last year and work with content owners. The start-up has raised the ire of rights holders such as Major League Baseball, which mulled (according to PaidContent) suing Sling over its blackout-busting TV video signal-slinging technology.