A $46.6 million Bet on Sling Media

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UPDATE: One of the main investors is EchoStar, which also operates the Dish Network satellite TV service. The plan is to differentiate the Dish service with the Slingbox “take your video anywhere” service and, “to expand into mobile platforms like cell phones and handheld devices. Sling Media also recently announced plans to introduce Macintosh-compatible versions and offer the service beyond the U.S. market.”

Silicon Beat reports that Sling Media, the folks behind the Slingbox set top box that allows you to stream your television or DVR over the internet to your PC have raised a gigantic $46.6 million round of financing. This is on top of the $15 million they raised two years ago so obviously someone is thinking this whole rush-home-to-watch-your-favorite-television-show thing is coming to an end and the boys at Sling Media are going to strike it rich.

We’ll find out more tomorrow but I think it’s clear that the future of disintermediated television is going to include viewing on any internet-enabled device which includes wifi-enabled PSPs, video iPods, and phones. The future is going to be one of television where and when you want it.

I remember skipping work on Monday morning in Tokyo to catch the live broadcast of the Super Bowl at the US embassy residential apartment because that was one of the few places to get the live feed (strange to drink at 6am on Monday morning but that’s for another post). Now, with Slingboxes, anyone with a friend in the US can get their own private feed.

My wife and I pay Comcast $25/month to get Japan TV which carries NHK (the BBC of Japan) live. Every so often a broadcast is interrupted with an image of Mt. Fuji set to generic background music and a message on screen saying the segment is not covered by NHK’s overseas copyright distribution agreement. In this new world of Slingboxes, as long as you’re accessing your own TV signal, then there is no restriction on transmissions across borders right? It’s as if you have a long pipe through which you’re watching your television set.

I know that the professional sports leagues are very restrictive on which regions can carry which games. I wonder what the NBA or Major League Baseball league is going to have to say about travelling salesmen using their PC to watch the homegame outside of the broadcast region. I’m sure someone’s already run into this, we’ll just have to see how it all plays out.

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