EchoStar Acquires Sling Media for $380 Million

Echostar said Tuesday that it will acquire Sling Media in a $380 million cash and stock deal that closes later this year.

Echostar is the parent company of Dish Network, while Sling Media is the manufacturer of the Slingbox 'place-shifting' device. Sling will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the satellite television company, although it will not change any of the services or products it provides.

The funds from the acquisition should help Sling to accelerate its product development, and give it added resources to complete planned projects, such as Clip+Sling. Senior officials say that the company was struggling to ship products with too small of a staff.

"By combining strategies, resources and technologies with EchoStar, Sling Media will be able to rapidly expand our open multi-platform product offerings, not only for DISH Network subscribers, but for digital media enthusiasts around the globe," CEO and co-founder Blake Krikorian said in a statement.

Echostar was an early investor in the project, and said it will not interfere with the company's business. For example, Sling recently announced a partnership with DirecTV: the merger does not affect that agreement.

However, not everybody feels that the deal may be a positive one. Strategy Analytics analyst Dave Mercer warned that Sling could end up getting "Tivoed" -- where instead of being a disruptive force in the marketplace, it becomes overly dependent on its partners.

"It's not a question that Sling can be good for Echostar - it will allow the firm to offer new TV and web-based services," Mercer said. "It will put pressure on DirecTV and the US cable companies to address their own place-shifting strategies more urgently. But the interest centres on EchoStar/Sling's international strategy and partner relationships."

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