Sling TV unveils FAST service Freestream

Virtual MVPD Sling TV launched on Thursday Sling Freestream, a free ad-supported streaming TV service that’s separate from Sling’s pay TV offering, with no sign-up required.

From the get-go Sling Freestream comes with more than 210 channels and 41,000 on-demand titles, and Sling plans to increase that content library over the next few months. Channels on Freestream’s lineup include ABC News Live, CBS News, Fail Army, FilmRise and the Pet Collective, to name a few.

The FAST service also provides free episodes of shows like “Forensic Files,” “Heartland” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” along with international programming in seven languages.

It’s not the first time Sling is offering free content, as the vMVPD already had a free tier with a collection of FAST channels. The difference here is that users don’t need a Sling TV subscription or account to access Freestream, though they can still make one to create user profiles, favorite frequently watched channels and tap into other personalization features.

Freestream is currently live on Roku devices and is rolling out across Comcast, LG, Samsung, Vizio and Xbox devices. In the coming months, the FAST service will be made available on all Sling-supported devices, including Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV and TiVo Stream.

The drive behind Freestream, according to Sling TV Group President Gary Schanman, is to help meet consumers’ evolving needs. Research indicates consumers are continuing to increase their FAST intake for a cheaper alternative to SVOD services.

"We know some people want free content, some may want a year-round paid subscription, while others may want to subscribe for certain events or shows,” Schanmann said in a statement. “We have coupled world-class content with the option to easily flex in and out of premium pay TV, creating a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience."

Not only do Freestream users have the option to upgrade to Sling’s Orange or Blue paid tiers, they can also add a subscription from around 50 standalone streaming services, including AMC+, discovery+, Showtime and others. Thus, Sling is offering a more aggregated streaming experience, which many consumers consider as a must-have.

Schanmann also touted the value of Freestream’s “premium advertising experience.”

"Built on the same advertising tech that powers Sling, Freestream is yet another opportunity for us to lead, innovate and deliver a greater impact for our advertisers,” he added.

As the FAST service grows, Sling plans to further enhance user experience by integrating universal search functionality, autoplay capabilities, updated guide filters, among other features.

The launch of Freestream comes a few months after Sling raised the monthly cost of its subscription tiers by $5 per month – the vMVPD’s first price hike in nearly two years. Also this week, Vidaa unveiled its own free streaming hub for its TVOS.

Separately, Peacock last week dropped its free streaming tier. The move seemed ill-timed according to NScreen Media chief analyst Colin Dixon, as the FAST market is showing no signs of slowing down in the next few years.