Dish’s Sling TV launches free in-app gaming platform Arcade

Game on: Dish-owned Sling TV announced the launch of a new, no-cost, integrated gaming experience called Arcade for Sling Freestream FAST and virtual MVPD Sling TV users.

With Arcade, users can play full-screen games, as well as play while they watch live or recorded movies and TV shows, at the same time and on the same screen.

The 10 games currently available feature a library of classic games through a partnership with Play.Works. Initially, they’re available to Sling subscribers and users on Fire TV and Android TV. Arcade is expected to roll out to other platforms and devices over the next few months,  giving viewers something to do throughout commercial breaks or in addition to watching TV. Arcade may also be a way for Dish to keep viewers engaged and entertained without leaving the Sling app.

Arcade’s suite of games currently includes classics like Tetris, Wheel of Fortune, Solitaire Clash, and Poker Online, as well as Sweet Sugar, Neon Rider, Pixel Dash, Centipede, Doodle Jump, and Coin Town.

"SLING is now more than just TV…No other streaming platform gives you access to more entertainment options for free,” said Gary Schanman, group president of Dish Video Services, in a press release announcing the experience.  

Arcade rolled out following last week’s quarterly earnings report from Dish, where the company reported a loss of 314,000 net pay TV subscribers across its satellite TV and vMVPD Sling TV services in Q4 of 2023. According to a disclosure from parent-company Echostar’s financial statements, the company has debt slated to mature in 2024 and anticipates it will be forced “to use a substantial amount of cash” over the next year, which creates “substantial doubt” that it will be able to continue operating as a going concern. 

Sling TV’s subscriber base alone was down 12% year-over-year, according to MoffettNathanson analysts, and has been declining for the past six years. Echostar’s total net losses in Q4 of 2023 were $2 billion, with greater fiber construction and more options for rural America cited as a key factor contributing to shrinkage across the Dish business.

Sling isn’t the first streamer to bring games to the table. Netflix debuted free on-and-offline mobile gaming capabilities within its streaming app in 2021. As of October 2023, Netflix offered around 77 mobile games, with approximately 11 games directly inspired by its IP, including  games based on popular shows like The Queen’s Gambit, Stranger Things, Love Is Blind, and Narcos.

With the launch of Arcade, Dish could entice users to remain within its streaming app and engage longer or more often.

CEO of Play.Works Jonathan Boltax expressed a similar sentiment in Sling’s press release, stating, "Play.Works continues to innovate on TV and Arcade is another example of this. Play.Works catalog of games built from the ground-up for TV drives retention and usage.”