DISH Network got in on the streaming revolution early with their 2015 release of Sling TV, DISH’s own streaming service. Despite the continued growth of the space, with companies like Sony throwing their hats into the ring, Sling TV maintained the most subscribers for a live-streaming service for years. That reign has finally come to an end.
Walt Disney’s “Hulu + Live TV” service has toppled Sling TV from their spot atop the most subscribers list. According to Disney’s Q1 numbers, Hulu + Live TV boasts an impressive 3.2 million paid subscribers.
DISH has yet to release Sling TV’s numbers for the same time period, but it is incredibly unlikely that they will be able to surpass 3.2 million. Experts predict that Sling TV will have less than 3 million but more than YouTube TV’s 2 million. Those three services round out the top three live-streaming services available in the United States.
The success of Disney’s Hulu + Live TV service is not unexpected, though it is a far cry from what experts predicted just a year ago. In 2019, everyone expected AT&T’s DirecTV Now to be the new king of live-streaming. Unfortunately for AT&T, DirecTV Now has never been able to get it together. The service has been leaking subscribers for over a year, so much so that the service is quickly becoming a point of embarrassment for the wireless carrier.
If you are thinking that 3.2 million for the number one most successful live-streaming service seems small, you are not alone. All of these services are part of what the industry refers to as the “skinny-bundle market”. Skinny-bundles are paired down services that traditional pay-TV providers began to offer a few years ago to combat the cord-cutting movement.
These slimmed down packages sport slimmed down prices, which is what makes them so appealing to the average consumer. However, they are still not as appealing as streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus. While Hulu + Live TV’s success is good for Disney, it’s unlikely that the service will be the future of the company. It’s entirely possible that the skinny-bundle industry disappears entirely over the next few years.