Sling TV, which offers live streaming of many popular sports, news, movie and entertainment cable TV channels, has made a number of recent changes to their service. Local Now has been added to the Roku app, ABC network and local programming is available in select areas, and Newsy, Viceland, and Flama have been added to the "Best of Live TV" subscription package. Also, ABC Family has been rebranded as Freeform. If you haven't checked out Sling TV in awhile, read on for details on all of these recent additions and changes.
Local Now available on Roku devices
Local Now, an ad-free channel from The Weather Channel, provides current local news, weather, sports and traffic updates in 207 markets. The channel cycles through four information categories, all updated in real time:
60 Now! - A one-minute segment of clips of breaking news and current events
Weather - Current conditions, regional doppler radar for the last three hours, and the latest 7-day forecast
Traffic - A traffic map showing relative speeds on area highways, a list of incidents and events, and conditions of key area routes
News & Sports - News and sports headlines, along with games schedules for local and regional pro and college sports teams
Local Now detects your current location based on the IP address of your Internet connection, so it will always give local updates, even when you travel with your Roku. Previously available only on select devices, Local Now started rolling out to Roku devices on March 3 and is included as part of the basis Best of Live TV package.
ABC local and network programming available
Although Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch stated last October that broadcast networks would not be added to Sling TV in the short-term, ABC has been quietly added as part of the $5 per month "Broadcast Extra" bundle in select markets. Currently, this includes Chicago, Fresno-Visalia, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, San Francisco (check for updates here). Due to local affiliate agreements, it's likely that additional cities will have to be added piecemeal, with a national agreement unlikely, but the addition of a live streaming broadcast network on an over-the-top device is precedent setting.
Newsy and Flama added to Sling TV basic package
The Best of Live TV package has added two additional channels aimed at Millennials, Newsy and Flama.
Newsy provides short segments covering world and national news, culture, tech, science, entertainment, sports, policy and other current events. Newsy does not do its own reporting, but pulls its coverage from many different media sources. This offers the advantage of unbiased newscasts that present varying perspectives on the latest headlines. Newsy on Sling TV is currently an on-demand channel, but the live feed is promised to be added in the coming months. More information on the addition of Newsy to Sling TV can be found in this press release.
Best of Live TV subscribers have also gained access to content from Univision's Flama, billed as "an English-language digital video destination designed exclusively for U.S. born Hispanic Millennials." This on-demand channel features short-form videos focused on comedy, entertainment, music, and food. More information on Flama can be found here.
H2 dropped, Viceland added
A&E Networks, which recently purchased a stake in Vice Media, has replaced HISTORY spin-off H2 with a new channel called Viceland. More cerebral shows like "How the States Got Their Shapes," "Modern Marvels," and "America Unearthed," have been replaced with decidedly racier subjects. Viceland shows include "F..., That's Delicious," "Weediquette," "Balls Deep," and "Gaycation." Viceland, like H2, is part of the Sling TV Best of Live TV package.
ABC Family is now Freeform
ABC Family was rebranded as Freeform in January in an effort to "evolve the young-skewing network past traditional family viewing and toward its target audience of... those in the life stage spanning ages 14 to 34," as stated in a Variety article announcing the change. In that article, network president Tom Ascheim stated that the network's programming won't change, even though they are trying to move beyond the "family" and "wholesome" image connected with ABC Family. Freeform has added shows, including addiction drama "Recovery Road" and saga series "Shadowhunters." Popular shows still on Freeform after the name change include "Young and Hungry," "The Fosters," and "Baby Daddy."