updated 03:45 pm EST, Tue November 8, 2011
Dish may use streaming to cut expensive TV
Dish is contemplating a TV streaming service that could be an end-run around costs for traditional TV, according to possible new leaks. The strategy as explained to the Wall Street Journal would see channels from "several" studios licensed for paid streaming online to help make it cheaper to adopt Dish's TV service. Some of the cost would come from excising sports channels it's normally required to carry from the cheapest Internet pricing plans, as they often cost disproportionately much more than other stations.
It may even turn to supplying over-the-air antennas to help catch basic TV stations that are free to watch through broadcasts but which cost money to run when they come over landlines.
Dish was supposedly in an "exploratory" phase and might not necessarily take action on either the Internet or antenna plans.
The steps would be taken as a tough economy, competition from DirecTV, and cord-cutting were taking their toll on Dish's results. Although it turned a $319.1 million profit in its last quarter, it also lost 110,000 subscribers over the same period. Often faced with annual rate hikes, many of those on conventional TV have quit either because they can't afford the price every week or can't justify it when iTunes, Netflix, and other services provide the same content for less.
Dish's strategy would be a big break not just from its own strategy but for the industry. It already has an Internet video service in Blockbuster Movie Pass, but it doesn't focus on TV shows and uses on-demand viewing. If Dish secured live, full channels, it would point to a TV provider making a rare break with the studios it depends on and an attempt to see if live TV can work online.