How Sling.com fits into long-term product strategy

I've been asked by a lot of reporters in the past few weeks whether Sling.com -- Sling Media's online video Website in the US featuring content from Hulu, CBS and many others -- is something they should cover. I don't envy reporters who aren't specialists in media technology, they really have a hard time knowing whether a specific site, application, or device, matters. In the case of Sling.com, it was particularly confusing to the lay reporter because it almost appears like a shift in business model. As in, "Oh, no, the Slingbox isn't selling well, let's get into the online video business!" I had to reassure reporters that in fact Sling.com makes good sense for Sling. In fact, it's part of a secret plan.

I wrote about it on my video-focused blog OmniVideo (http://omnivideo.wordpress.com) yesterday, read the post here for more detail from a video perspective. At the end of the post, I explain that this Web video strategy is really about future product strategy for Sling. This is a case where a very patient company sees that it must position itself for the future. I wrote:

Because the Slingcatcher lets you share PC and online content to your TV, aggregating the best content on Sling.com just makes it that much easier for Slingcatchers to access the best of the Web on the TV. It’s a small step, but it represents big thinking.
Big thinking because once Sling can show that it has the technology in its Slingcatcher and the content on Sling.com, it will then start calling Samsung and other TV and Blu-ray makers to say, “Hey, want an Internet-connected TV strategy that puts the best of the Web on your device quickly? Partner with us!”

I expect these kinds of announcements all through 2009. We see the first wave of them in the recent deals Netflix has done with LG and Samsung. That's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I'll be writing an entire report updating the many ways video is coming to the TV in early 2009, so stay tuned.