Sling TV CEO Lynch: We’re not competing with DirecTV Now, big pay-TV

Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch isn’t one for convention. He is, after all, the boss of one of the more disruptive OTT services on the market… it’s even disrupted the pay-TV business of its parent, Dish Network, reportedly adding subscribers each quarter as Dish – and the rest of the pay-TV industry loses them.

So, it really wasn’t a surprise when Lynch this afternoon launched an impromptu session on Periscope, the app that allows users to broadcast live from their smartphones or tablets, to talk about the industry and a recent report from Parks Associates that showed Sling TV had moved from No. 10 on Parks’ list of OTT companies to No. 6, in the process jumping ahead of HBO Now.

Lynch said he believed that Sling TV and the industry are at a transition point, a point where consumers are now in charge and asserted that the value of a pay-TV service isn’t necessarily in the number of channels that it offers but in the flexibility with which it offers them.

Lynch said Sling TV isn’t trying “to be the one service that met all the needs of consumers” because “we don’t think that’s a viable model anymore.”

That may or may not be the case, and we’re likely get a better idea if bigger is, in fact better when AT&T next month launches its DirecTV Now virtual pay-TV offering, one that is expected to offer 100 channels for $35 a month.

When asked, Lynch lumped DirecTV Now in with other “traditional” pay-TV services because of its size, adding that Sling TV doesn’t intent to recreate “that big bundle of channels.”

“Our strategy was to create choice for consumers,” he said.

Sling TV, Lynch said, likely will introduce a new program grid to help direct new users – many of whom are former pay-TV subscribers – to the service’s content more easily.

Lynch said that when Sling TV first launched it targeted a younger demographic of cord nevers and cord cutters.

“The vast majority had never had pay TV,” he said. “We knew they were used to finding content in a different paradigm than a traditional grid guide.”

Now, as Sling TV expands and attracts more disaffected pay-TV users better discovery is “something we’re focused on.”

The service also will continue to expand its programming, Lynch said, noting that tit recently had signed a deal with the NHL.

But, it’s not likely that Sling TV – especially its basic Orange service – will ever attempt to have live linear feeds from ANC, CBS, NBC and Fox, especially local ones.

“Locals are some of the most expensive channels for a pay-TV operator to carry,” he said. Sling TV Blue, however, already has some limited network fare and may expand to include local affiliates in the future.

For certain, he said, Sling will continue to add content, most likely in the form of additional content bundles users can select.

On other topics, Lynch said:

Account sharing among consumers is simply a reality for OTT services, one that may be more difficult to police than it’s worth. Services might be best to adopt Netflix’s attitude that it’s just another form of marketing that could lead to new customers.

Data caps by ISPs and operators penalizing consumers by raising rates on broadband for those who don’t take their pay-TV services are the biggest “risk to this nascent industry” and it’s anticompetitive.

Regardless, he said, “Whatever they try to do, OTT has the ability to be better than the traditional pay-TV industry.”

Stay tuned.

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