Q&A with Sling Media’s VP/GM Michael Hawkey

Michael Hawkey at the whiteboardMichael Hawkey, vice president and general manager at Sling Media, has been on the job for several months now. We sat down with him to get his thoughts about the company, its products and the industry and what he’s doing to take Sling Media to the next level.

Sling Media: Coming into this new role, what are you most excited about?

Michael Hawkey: I’m excited about giving customers the ability to watch their TV anywhere; all their content anytime, anyplace, especially with the massive growth in mobile devices over the past six years. Watching your videos on your mobile device actually came along after the first Slingbox. Sling was ahead of its time, in that regard, because we were giving you TV Anywhere before mobile devices exploded and networks became more reliable. Now, with all the great devices and stronger networks, people want to access their content all the time. That’s what I’m excited about.

Sling:  What do you think is driving that behavior?

Michael: When you have a screen in your hand or on your lap, it’s natural that you would want sound AND video.  I don’t need to ask my mother what she wants to see on her Kindle Fire or what my daughter wants to watch on her iPad.  They want to watch their TV, and Sling gives them a way to get their TV channels without limits. The content allows people to be free to move around.

Back in the old TV days, M*A*S*H* was on every Monday at 7:30 pm. We planned our weekly activities around it because you had to watch it when it was on. Now, people are on-the-go far more today, and they don’t want to be pinned down to a time or a place. The DVR gives us the ability to shift time. Slingbox takes that a step further by shifting location as well. That’s what I like about Slingbox — it delivers all your TV channels, all the time, anywhere.

Sling:   Sports fan and tech enthusiasts who own a Slingbox really love it. What about other audiences?

Michael:  We want to go beyond tech enthusiasts, beyond sports enthusiasts. We’ll never abandon them, but we want to reach other people, especially the millennial generation.

Sling:  How is social media effecting TV as a whole and how is Sling Media using it to better engage with its customers?

Michael: Social Media let’s people share online, but the concept isn’t new. For us older folks, we just talked about TV around the water cooler.  We “did” social media over lunch or face to face.  Now, we’re using technology to expand how and where you can connect with others.

Sling:  What’s one misconception about Slingbox you would like to address?

Michael: There’s a few. A lot of people watch commercials and believe they can watch their TV on their mobile device, inside and outside the home. But really, only Slingbox can deliver that. That’s not a misconception about Sling, but the concept of TV Anywhere.

Another misconception is that Sling has ongoing fees. Actually, consumers just need to purchase the hardware and software and that’s it.

Not necessarily a misconception, but people don’t know what Sling does. They might recognize the brand, but don’t know what we do.

Sling: On the lighter side of things, what’s on your iTunes?

Michael: Aerosmith to Beatles, Billie Holiday to Billy Joel, big Christina Aguilera fan, Nelly Furtado, big No Doubt fan, Green Day, Sound City, classical, hip-hop, even metal.

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Never would’ve pinned Michael Hawkey as a No Doubt or Green Day fan!

Connect with him on his LinkedIn page. And check back here for more Q&As with other members of the Sling Media team.