Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Dish Network Eyes Web TV — And Invests in Roku’s Web TV Box

Dish Network is exploring an “over the top” service that would deliver cable TV programming over the Web, Bloomberg reports. Here’s a bit of news that syncs up nicely with that: The satellite TV service has already invested in Roku, the consumer electronics company that makes Web video-to-TV gadgets.

The investment was made as part of a $45 million round Roku raised in July, according to multiple sources familiar with the transaction. Roku raised the funds after considering an acquisition offer from Amazon.

At the time, Roku said it had taken money from several investors including News Corp. (which also owns this Web site) and BSkyB, along with an “unnamed strategic investor.” I don’t know why it didn’t want to disclose its participation, but Dish is the mystery investor. (UPDATE: A sharp-eyed reader notes that I’m not the first to suss this out: Our corporate colleagues at the Wall Street Journal made the same connection… all the way back in July.)

If Dish ever did go forward with a Web TV service, there would be an obvious benefit in a tie-up with Roku, which competes head-to-head with Apple’s Apple TV box.

On the other hand, since Roku, unlike Apple, has made a point of opening its box up to all sorts of Web TV providers, Dish wouldn’t necessarily require an ownership stake to get its service on Roku’s hardware.

A Roku PR rep says the company is “still under NDA with the unnamed strategic investor and therefore can’t comment.” I haven’t heard back from Dish.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus