Sling Media rakes in more funding

The little start-up selling a device to turn laptops and PDAs into TV sets lands $46.6 million.

Sling Media, one of Silicon Valley's hottest start-ups, announced Tuesday that it has raised another $46.6 million in funding.

The company, which has developed a device that allows people to watch cable and satellite TV on their laptops or cell phones while away from home, received funding from two major media companies: Liberty Media, which owns the Starz movie and the QVC home-shopping channels, and EchoStar Communications, a satellite TV operator. Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co. also contributed to the round.

Sling Media's first product, the Slingbox, is a consumer electronics device that turns existing cable and satellite TV feeds into packets and then sends them across the Internet. Slingbox allows consumers to select regular TV programming they see at home and see it on any Internet-connected Windows-based laptop, smart phone or PDA.

The product is popular among business travelers, who, for example, can watch their hometown sports team while on the road. The device costs about $250, and there is no ongoing subscription fee to use the service. Slingbox is already sold in more than 3,000 retail locations.

Companies developing home entertainment gadgets and consumer electronics are getting a lot of attention lately as larger players such as Cisco Systems make a play for the market. Cisco last year said it would spend $6.9 billion to buy cable set-top box maker Scientific-Atlanta.

The common denominator between Cisco and Sling Media is broadband. High-speed Internet access in the home is what is making home networking and Internet-enabled entertainment possible. As even more homes get broadband connections, the possibilities for these companies to reach a wider audience with their products also increase.

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