Dish's Sling TV to offer $5 promotion for first month to new and returning customers

Key Points
  • Dish's Sling TV is offering a five-day promotion of its Sling TV services for $5 for the first month.
  • Dish added about 214,000 Sling customers in the third quarter.
  • Dish may bundle Sling TV with a new national wireless service if a judge allows T-Mobile to merge with Sprint, sources say.
Dish's Charles Ergen
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Dish Network is offering a five-day promotion where new and returning customers can sign up for Sling TV for $5 for the first month, part of the satellite TV's company effort to boost video subscribers in an era of cord cutting.

More than other telecommunications executives, Dish chairman and co-founder Charlie Ergen has leaned into cord cutting, developing Sling TV five years ago as a way for consumers to watch linear programming on mobile devices outside their home. The five-day, $5 promotion comes as Dish commemorates the service's fifth anniversary, deeming Feb. 9 as "National Cut the Cord Day." The promotion lasts from Friday to Tuesday.

Dish will offer the first month of its Sling Orange and Sling Blue products for $5. Customers will pay the standard $30 per month after that. Sling Orange includes more than 30 linear channels, including ESPN, CNN and TNT. Sling Blue includes more than 40 channels, including Fox News, USA and Comedy Central. Dish has been offering the first month of Sling Orange and Sling Blue for $20 per month.

Dish is also offering new customers a "cord cutter bundle" that includes a digital antenna, an AirTV2 and an AirTV Mini for $5 if they prepay for three months of either Sling Orange or Sling Blue at full price. The extra devices allow users to watch free over-the-air broadcast channels to Sling's digital interface.

Dish ended the third quarter with 12.18 million total pay-TV subscribers — 9.49 million for satellite and 2.69 million for Sling TV. Dish added about 214,000 Sling customers in the third quarter — a stark contrast from rival AT&T TV Now, which offers a more expensive bundle of streaming linear channels and reported a loss of 219,000 customers last quarter.

Dish executives see Sling TV as a potential aggregator for streaming services that want to make content available as a la carte additions to the linear service, according to people familiar with the matter. Still, Sling's consumer niche is its low price for a skinny bundle of linear channels — even lower than Hulu with Live TV ($54.99 per month) and YouTube TV ($49.99 per month). Dish isn't interested in adding streaming services to its bundle if it will increase the base price, the people said.

Dish may also bundle Sling TV with its wireless service if a judge allows T-Mobile to merge with Sprint, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the company's plans are private. The merger would allow Dish to acquire divested assets and wireless spectrum to launch a new national 5G network.

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