That’s one of the details Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen dropped today about his widely anticipated personal streaming service, which he says will launch by the end of the year. A+E Networks yesterday said that it will support the plan, following an earlier deal Dish made with Disney. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said today that he’s open to offering his channels, but wants more information. Ergen told analysts he hopes to hook young viewers by selling them a low-priced package with some — but not all — of the channels in the conventional pay-TV bundle.
That package is expensive and “my concern is that today we’re missing that whole generation” of young viewers who find it too pricey, Ergen says. “They come home, turn on the Internet and watch something for free. The core industry is missing them.” The rate of potential customers refusing to buy the conventional package is growing by as many as 4M a year, he estimates. Still, the initiative “could be disruptive to the current ecosystem” if full pay TV subscribers switch to the less expensive service “so we’re going cautiously about it.”
A+E’s announcement raised questions by referring to “multi-stream rights” it agreed to offer for live and VOD programming. That seemed to indicate that Dish could serve multiple TVs or devices at a time; the thinking after the Disney deal was that Dish would just serve one device at a time. Ergen told analysts today that “we haven’t made all of the decisions” about the service. “It’s basically per home, but if everybody is watching the same channel…We call that single stream. That’s basically the approach. We should look at experimentation with that.”
Ergen’s also working out whether to offer the streaming service widely, or just to people who use the wireless spectrum that Dish is amassing. “It could be both,” although on his network he could ensure “a quality of service that’s consistent.” He’s especially eager to harness the data that wireless providers have and use it to target ads to people most likely to buy a product. “A few years from now you aren’t going to see ‘Fly the friendly skies’ in an ad,” he says. “You’re going to see, ‘Buy a ticket.’ And the difference in advertising revenue is dramatic.” He adds that wireless has potential beyond smartphones and tablets with devices linking “every car, pet, child, refrigerator, camera, security system, watch, machine…..You’re going to want to be connected and you’re going to be happy about it.”