Interview: Sling Media’s Blake Krikorian on the future of video

RCR Wireless News
Interview with Blake Krikorian, CEO Sling Media (mp3)

In the world of off-deck mobile video, Sling Media Inc. has pushed the envelope quite successfully. Indeed, the fact the television is no longer anchored to the living room is partly due to the company’s innovation.

By place-shifting the content of users’ set-top boxes and other television gadgetry to PC and mobile devices, Sling Media has squarely taken on industries that froth at the mouth over any opportunity to nickel and dime customers.

So you can bet the company quickly drew ire from incumbent players across the entertainment spectrum. But CEO Blake Krikorian is proud of how far things have come since the first SlingBox was sold in mid-2004. Innovation begets strange bedfellows. The company has since struck partnerships with wireless carriers, TV networks and content providers to share in the wealth to be had.

Indeed, EchoStar Communications acquired the company for $380 million last fall. And two months later, rumors surfaced that EchoStar would be bought out by AT&T Inc. for $29.5 billion.

While Krikorian might have a new boss to report to, he says it’s still business as usual at Sling Media. He’s focusing on the same strategy that brought his company to the forefront in the first place. Krikorian doesn’t buy into all the hype about short-form, snack-sized clips, exclusive content or programming developed for the small screen. That’s all marketing gobbledygook, he says. Consumers want to watch the same television programming they enjoy at home.

“This comes back to just looking at the consumer,” he said. “You go down to the store, go on any street corner, talk to people and say ‘do you want to watch television on your phone?’ and the people who will say yes, then you ask them, ‘OK, like what?’ And they’re not going to say ‘Hmm, I would prefer to like watch some like short form or some exclusive content tailored for the phone.’ They’re going to say the Super Bowl is on and I want to watch the Super Bowl or ‘The Daily Show’ is on and I recorded it on my TiVo and I want to watch it or I want to watch CNN Headline News or whatever it is. It’s the TV programming that people know and love today and are familiar with. It’s not any of this other stuff. And so, at the end of the day, the great thing about the SlingBox is what? It’s just giving people access to the stuff that they’re already paying for and the things they’re already used to watching.”