Dish Network has made some major moves in an increasingly progressive video content market with their Blockbuster-based streaming/mail service and their exclusivity on certain Fox television shows on Hulu for 8 days after airing. Clearly they have some greater ambitions, as CEO Joseph Clayton recently shared an interest in T-Mobile with Bloomburg. Apparently, they have interest in partnering up with the number four wireless carrier if their deal with AT&T falls through, which could allow them to share spectrum (Dish has some stockpiled which could be used for LTE or more HSPA+) and customers (with TV + Phone bundles).
This is in no way a formal offer, evidenced by the fact that Clayton suggested that they could even go with a company like Sprint/Clearwire or pick up divested spectrum if the AT&T/T-Mobile merger does go through. Either way, Dish Network has plenty of room to grow and seem to be taking a page out of Verizon’s playbook in cross-media investment.
Bloomberg has reported on a rumor from “a person with direct knowledge” concerning Dish Network’s plans with the Blockbuster brand. After their acquisition of the bankrupt company last April, many were scratching their heads wondering why a satellite television company would have interest in a video rental service. This source suggests that Dish seeks to expand Blockbuster’s online on-demand offerings to support a subscription-based model much like Netflix’s Instant View or Amazon’s Prime Instant Video services.
This move would come in the wake of Netflix’s rising prices coming into effect this month and the recent news that Starz has let their contract with Netflix end due to unfulfilled demands for more licensing costs. With Blockbuster.com’s established presence in the on-demand market, the launch of a subscription arm seems a logical next step. To add insult to injury, Bloomberg’s source suggests that this new service will co-opt the scorned Starz catalog to bolster initial offerings. These two facts could make this Blockbuster not only a credible competitor to Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu but also bring them into the market much more quickly than any other company might be able.