Dish bows Sling Orange and Sling Blue, with more content to boot

Dish Network’s OTT service, Sling TV, continues to tweak its offerings as it looks to push subscriber numbers higher and maintain its lead in the virtual MSO space.

Its new multi-stream service, which has been coasting along in beta version, today became a formal offering named Sling Blue. Priced at $25 a month for new customers (existing multi-stream beta customers will stay at $20) the service allows users to watch up to three streams at once.

Blue also added channels from NBCUniversal, including NBC (live where available), USA, Bravo, NBC Sports Network, Syfy and BBC America. Users can also add E!, CNBC, MSNBC, Oxygen, Golf and NBCUniverso by subscribing to one of several “Extra Packs” for $5 each.

Including FOX and regional sports networks that brings Sling Blue to a hefty 44 channels, which is bigger than most pay-TV basic packages (but it doesn’t yet include ABC or CBS).

The original Sling TV package, now called Sling Orange, also added BBC America to bring its channel total to 28 for $20 (Orange doesn’t include CBS, ABC, FOX or NBC).

For those subscribers who want both service tiers, Sling is discounting the pair $5 to $40 per month.

Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue are the early entrants into the virtual-MSO horserace looking to stake an early lead among Millennials, cord cutters, cord nevers and other consumers unwilling to get into long-term contracts with service providers.

What will challenge both offerings will be the continuing arrival of more direct-to-consumer ad- and subscription-supported live programming from individual broadcasters, cable networks, content owners and  niche players.

That will give consumers true a la carte options for over-the-top viewing, options that many already have shown a willingness to pay for if the price – and content – is right.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn