Don’t include Charlie Ergen among the small but growing group of industry watchers who believe cable and satellite companies could soon face competition from a company that offers a similar bundle of channels via the web. “It’s going to happen at some point in time,” the Dish Network chairman told analysts today. “But most programmers have been hesitant to embrace that kind of dramatic change. In the short term, it’s unclear that that’s going to happen.” Intel is one of the companies that wanted to become an online power — but now hopes to sell its venture, called On Cue. Verizon and Liberty Media are said to be interested. Dish isn’t. “We’re not in any discussions with Intel about their over-the-top product,” Ergen says. Still, he evangelized about the value of keeping one’s options open. Although “we’re not trying to drive over-the-top,” he says that “if things are going to change, then we want to be involved with it.”
That view extends to developing a product that might mimic Aereo by using antennas to tap TV station signals and stream them to customers without paying a fee to broadcasters. Last week DirecTV CEO Mike White said he has weighed the possibility to fight back against broadcasters’ rising demands for retransmission fees. Ergen’s not as interested but says that Aereo “is a good product, and we give them a lot of credit for technological innovation.” And he could change his mind if broadcasters decide that streaming is “not something they want to do or go too slow.”
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