Disney and Dish: An exciting marriage or the beginning of a divorce?

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments


Photo courtesy The Associated Press

Well, this is important. Dish Network and Disney made a deal this week, and it might just change a whole bunch of stuff throughout the Internet TV landscape. In short, the satellite television provider bought the rights to offer up ABC, ESPN and the Disney Channel on an Internet platform. Think about what you get from owning an Apple TV, a Roku or a Chromecast. Substitute that for the aforementioned three networks. And boom. That’s what you got.

But here’s the thing: Dish is already in negotiations with other companies about the possibilities of utilizing the Over-The-Top service as well. Or, in other words, Dish is doing the one thing every other Very Important Business couldn’t get done — talk these ginormous conglomerates to sign off on allowing their channels to be streamed online.

Now, to what really matters. Price.

“Dish is working on price and packaging,” Edmund Lee, Scott Moritz and Alex Sherman, of Bloomberg, wrote Wednesday, “and it’s too early to speculate on when it might introduce the service. … The company aims to offer the service as soon as it can get enough programming deals in place, and is considering charging $20 to $30 a month, said people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the plans are private.”

Wait. It gets better.

“The Disney agreement,” they continued, “would let Dish offer a personalized subscription service charging for each individual viewer in a family, a significant change to the current cable-TV model based on one monthly fee for the entire household.”

Interesting. Interesting. Have another kid? Cough up another 10 bucks a month, Octomom!

OK. So, here is what I don’t get: What about Netflix and Hulu? Consider …

Let’s say Netflix is included in the Dish package now and instead of paying the typical $8-a-month fee for that service, it comes along with your NBCs and MTVs as part of a Dish Network subscription. OK. Good? Good. So, if that happens … could you please explain to me exactly what the difference between that and, say, HBO is? Both show movies. Both have original content. And with HBO Go, you could essentially pull up whatever you want to watch whenever you want to watch it, and that, in essence has always been Netflix’s calling card. Is Netflix the new Showtime? Or is HBO the new Hulu? Sure, Netflix has its own catalogue of other channels’ series, but at what point would those channels start to pull their shows off the site, if Netflix would be included in such a bundle? (Note: To my knowledge, Netflix has not been included in any of these scenarios, just to be clear).

Here’s my point: If you charge 20-to-30-bucks a month to merely watch and stream stuff from an online source, nobody is going to care. Why? Because it defeats the core reason behind why so many people are opting to cancel their cable TV packages in the first place. That reason? It’s cheap. And boy, if I had a nickel for every time I brought that mere fact up on this blog … well, I could probably buy dinner. Or something.

Things such as the Roku or the Apple TV or Chromecast have appeal because they are a good compromise. I can watch live ESPN programming and then take care of everything else with a tiny Netflix subscription. Couple that with all the clips you can find on YouTube or Amazon or whatever else you might be interested in, and you very honestly don’t need to spend more than about $10 a month to meet all your viewing needs. And that’s a great alternative to paying, say, 80 bucks a month for 534 channels, 90 percent of which you never watch anyway.

Thus, I have to ask again: What’s the point in spending 30-dollars a month for cable over the Internet, if the content provider is only taking its typical billing model and moving its source from antennas and power-lines to virtual clouds and computer screens?

Answer: There isn’t a point. Not one.

Still, this might have serious implications for where the medium could be going. Sony and Intel have tried this kind of stunt in the previous past, but neither company has been able to land this type of coup. Apple, for what it’s worth, couldn’t even buy a deal if it had Steve Jobs money. Oh, wait … .

Internet rights, people. It’s the new black, even with the presence of Orange looming. Everybody wants them. And now people are starting to figure out how to get them. This could either mean great stuff for us TV Without A TV folk (more free streaming content and more options!), or it could be the beginning of a long, annoying process that ultimately kills the niche (everything costs too much while the rich get richer!).

Like I said earlier this week: In like a lion … .


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