As PaidContent reported last night, satellite broadcaster EchoStar is acquiring SlingBox for $380-million. For anyone who doesn’t already know, Slingbox makes a gadget that seems so simple — but changes the way you think about TV and video content, in the same way that the TiVo-style personal video recorder does. The box allows you to stream content from your TV to virtually anywhere you have an Internet connection.
I remember talking to VOIP pioneer Jeff Pulver at VON Canada a year and a half ago and having him describe how he was sitting in a hotel room in Jerusalem watching TV on his laptop and decided to change the channel — at which point, his wife called him on his cellphone from their home in Long Island and yelled at him for changing the channel, because she was watching TV streamed from the Slingbox on her laptop in their bedroom. That story (along with my pal Stuart MacDonald’s post about watching TV on the train, which got him into the Economist) really helped to crystallize for me just how far TV has come.
According to an interview that founder Blake Krikorian did with PaidContent, the TV-streaming company will remain “platform-agnostic,” and as an update from PaidContent describes, Echostar is considering a split into two separate companies — one handling the satellite end and the other the set-top box technology. It’s worth wondering whether this deal will encourage certain parties (like, say, Hollywood or Major League Baseball) to step up their attacks on the idea. I hope Echostar is prepared.