Comcast-owned NBC refused to run commercials for Sling TV's competing streaming service


Sling TV screenshot


Sling TV, the company delivering internet-based streaming TV, says it's being boxed out by Comcast-owned NBC. 

Sling CEO Roger Lynch tells us that NBC refuses to run ads for Sling TV.

Lynch and his creative team wrote and produced a series of commercials aimed at a younger demographic (embedded below). The commercials are silly, portraying kids as the mean bureaucratic cable company workers who bully grown adults into signing unwanted cable additions. The tenor is silly, irreverent, and similar to a slew of other commercials out there also targeting the 'weirdness' of the younger generation.

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Sling submitted these commercials to eight local television markets: both the affiliates stations as well as the owned and operated stations of ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. As Lynch explained Business Insider in an interview, all stations accepted the commercials except for the ones owned and operated by NBC.

Owned and operated stations (often called O&O) are regional television channels house generally in big cities that networks have direct control over. Affiliates, conversely, are independently owned. NBC currently has ten O&O stations. They are in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington DC.


This move to block the commercials struck Lynch as purely political. NBCUniversal's owned Comcast has historically viewed over-the-top products like Sling as direct competition to their cable packages. It even tried to launch its own similar streaming service earlier this month.

Sling, which is owned by satellite company Dish, has been outspoken about Comcast. Dish executives balked at the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger that never was. Lynch explained that in his experience as a Dish executive, he has seen many instances "where we thought [Comcast was] acting anti-competitively."

This move to block all the commercials, said Lynch, is a similarly anti-competitive move. "I was surprised that they would go to this level to block our commercials," he said.

Lynch and his team tried to go to the top to figure out what had happened, but the only word they got was that the commercials were declined. Business Insider reached out to NBCUniversal, and a spokesperson confirmed this account.

This doesn't mean the commercials can't be seen. They are being aired on the other seven local television markets, and have been very well received. Lynch says that since its launch and now its national advertising campaign, the company has been very happy with its growth. He wouldn't, however, give any stats to back it up.


But moves like this threaten this new model that's just beginning to bloom. If the Comcast/TWC merger went through, it means they would control nearly 60% of the high-speed internet market. According to Lynch, it would have given them "way too much control."

Here's the spot that got rejected by NBC.


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