EchoStar is trying to convince cable operators to buy Sling technology-enabled set-top boxes. The Sling-loaded set-tops can deliver cable TV content to other devices, such as laptops and mobile phones.

Although many still think of EchoStar as the satellite TV provider, the company was actually spun off from DISH Network in January 2008 and supplies satellite equipment and set-top boxes, among other things.

The company does still have ties to DISH though. Last week EchoStar named Michael Dugan as president and CEO, positions formerly held by Charles Ergen, who remains chairman of EchoStar Corporation.

EchoStar owns Sling Media, which is known for its Slingbox TV streaming device. At the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show in January, EchoStar turned heads with its Sling-loaded set-top box, with CNET editors selecting the EchoStar 922 as the “Best of CES” in the home video category.   The company now is heavily marketing to cable operators.

The Sling set-top for cable, the T2200S, allows a subscriber to access his TV programming from his PC, laptop, Blackberry, or iPhone. The box is connected to the TV and Internet. For mobile use, WiFi is leveraged to sling the content to other devices.

EchoStar’s Sling technology deals with authentication and digital rights issues by providing a password associated with a cable subscription. But the password/subscription is strictly a one-to-one relationship, said Michael Hawkey, VP of sales and marketing at EchoStar. When one person in the household is watching TV on his laptop at Starbucks and changes the channel, the channel at the home TV changes, as well.

And the Sling-loaded set-top does not provide Internet-only content such as YouTube videos. However, being able to watch their cable programming on other devices at other locations might be more desirable to some subscribers than the TV Everywhere concept, in which subs can watch only some of their cable programming when connected to the Internet.

–Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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