Stealing The Stage, Dish Hops Into Upfront Discussions

by , May 17, 2012, 4:45 PM
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Dish's Network’s attempt to allow consumers to “Autohop” through commercials in the blink of an eye may seem ground-breaking to some. In fact, it's just a hand grenade into what NBC Universal chief Ted Harbert calls a threat on our "eco-system."

Have new media planners mentioned the word "disruption" recently? This would be “disruption” big time.

Mind you, this technology has always been around. Other cable, satellite and telco operators could have moved in the same direction. But we all know the wrath that can be levied by the big major broadcasters in this regard. Who would want to dance in this space?

Maybe Dish is just appealing to a growing consumer point of view that perhaps, at this time in the evolution of digital media, we may not need to watch advertising and other messaging. Maybe Dish could somehow work out a new formula for the new digital consumer.

No problem. The networks might want to renegotiate their carriage deals with Dish -- but not for 50 cents or $1 per subscriber. Maybe they will do deals at $10, $20 or $100 a sub. With no advertising in shows that consumers still regard as traditional TV,  networks would just need to adjust accordingly.

To the networks, if Dish wants to be a Netflix, Hulu or Apple Store, so be it. But there will be a price to pay. In the near term, the networks will sue or threaten to remove their channels from Dish's 15 million or so subscribers.

Right now, Dish's efforts amount to 10% of all the homes receiving U.S broadcast networks. AutoHop is only focusing on the prime-time efforts of the four major networks, with cable networks spared for the moment.

Dish may want to develop more into a renegade digital TV brand for its consumers. It is surely better positioned to be that than those newfangled internet-connected TV services like Aero (or, previously, FilmOn and ivi Tv).

Dish is getting mentioned during the upfronts, but the intended target of those network presentations are advertisers and media agencies. And that is not a business Dish is in right now.

New digital media companies are always rethinking their business formulas and revenues. Consumer fees, content license fees or advertising dollars? What is Dish up to?  One thing for sure: Right now, as with other digital players, it means innovation --and some hard-core entropy.

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