Analysts say the new $20-a-month Dish Network streaming service is surprisingly robust with live sports - with ESPN and ESPN2, in addition to TNT and TBS - and is targeted at young adults and cost-conscious consumers.
But it's not a slam dunk in taking millions of customers away from providers such as Comcast Corp.
Comcast itself has experimented with new services aimed primarily at millennials, who have been reluctant to subscribe to traditional TV services.
"Everyone is trying new bundles to attract a variety of customer segments. There are different consumer segments with different needs, so there will continue to be experimentation with regard to bundles and packaging," D'Arcy Rudnay, Comcast's chief communications officer, said Tuesday.
"A year and a half ago, we introduced Internet Plus, offering our best broadband speeds with a smaller television package that includes the broadcast [networks], HBO, and Streampix," Rudnay said. "And in 2014, we also began working with universities and colleges across our footprint to offer a streaming product to students that is available on their favorite devices anywhere on campus.
"These have been very popular among millennials and [are] another example of evolving bundles that appeal to new audiences."
Laura Martin, Needham & Co.'s senior media analyst, called Sling TV, Dish's new product, a "worthy experiment. We'll have to see what the adoption is."
Telecom industry analyst Craig Moffett said that the $20 Dish service should be a big concern for Comcast and others because of the price point.
Because "2014 ended with concerns about TV advertising weakness, declining TV viewership trends, and regulatory intervention into broadband," Moffett said, "you can now officially add [products such as Sling as] threats to the list for 2015."
Moffett ended his note to investors saying, "No, we don't think Dish's new service will take the world by storm." But he believes the product will find a niche and "be genuinely disruptive."
Chris Young, a senior analyst with research firm SNL Kagan L.C., said: "It's definitely a big change. We have not had changes to the bundle in some time. But it will not be the death of the overall business in the short term."
Dish Network, the nation's third-largest pay-TV operator, announced the 12-channel Sling TV on Monday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Walt Disney Co., which licensed the ESPN sports channels to it, said the service would target 12 million Internet-only households.