Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Dish Gets Ready to Serve Up Broadband and a Giant DVR

Dish Networks is a satellite TV company with some 14 million customers. But CEO Joesph Clayton has much bigger plans for the company.

We saw the first signs of that last year, when Clayton bought Blockbuster out of bankruptcy, then used the video company to create a kind of Netflix challenger. Tomorrow we should see the next steps, when the company rolls out a big announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Here’s a good bet on what that will be: A new broadband Internet service, along with a super-sized DVR.

Trade pub Multichannel News has the details, gleaned from a report that went up briefly on Dealerscope, then went away, presumably because it violated a pre-briefing embargo. (Thanks to Jason Hirschhorn’s very useful Media Redfined feed for flagging.)

Since we never agreed to the embargo, happy to summarize here (not surprisingly, Dish declined to comment):

  • The Internet service will be marketed to 8 million customers, most of whom can’t get fiber or cable broadband.
  • The giant DVR will be called “The Hopper” and is designed to save and transmit shows in different parts of your house, and presumably outside of it, via Slingbox. You can see a teaser page for that one here, or look at the screenshot at the bottom of this post.
  • There’s a cool feature that looks like it will automatically record the primetime lineups for the four broadcast networks (News Corp.’s Fox, Comcast’s NBC, Disney’s ABC and CBS).

All of which sounds interesting, and useful for existing Dish customers. But it doesn’t sound like Dish is ready to try a true “over the top” Web-based pay TV service that would rival traditional cable.

A lot of people think someone, or many people — could be Dish, could be Apple, could be Verizon, etc., etc., etc — is trying to line up one of those. But figuring out how to do that involves lots of deals with TV studios and programmers, and I don’t get the sense that anyone has those pacts yet. If Dish does, and announces it tomorrow, then it will truly be a press conference worth tuning into. If not, no worries — I’ll be watching anyway and will report back.

MORE CES NEWS:

[Shutterstock/Marko Cerovac]


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