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Dish-Sprint Marriage Could Breed Mobile Video

Sarah Thomas
4/16/2013
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In announcing its intent to acquire Sprint, Dish Networks CEO Charlie Ergen made it clear the deal was driven by the unprecedented growth in mobile video usage.

But, the end result of the deal, if it comes to pass, could be a new form of mobile video hitting its network -- its own.

On a press call to announce Dish's $25.5 billion bid for Sprint, Ergen said consumers' expectation of watching mobile video anywhere and on any device was a driving force behind the unexpected move. Combining the U.S.'s third largest pay TV provider, which also happens to have a healthy swatch of 2GHz LTE spectrum, with the third-largest wireless operator would certainly help the pair get the capacity they need to accommodate the influx of video-driven data.

At the same time, it could also let them build their own service. In the short term, Ergen emphasized that Dish has the bundle in mind. It offers broadband and satellite TV, which make a nice addition to Sprint's mobile service, especially in rural areas where consumers don't have cable or IPTV alternatives. But, longer term, Informa analyst Mike Roberts says they are uniquely positioned to build a compelling mobile video service.

"Looking at the fundamentals, they would have a market leading spectrum position," Roberts says. "If there's anything you need to really build a robust mobile video business, that would be a key ingredient."

Beyond pure capacity and the bundle, the two could make a powerful duo given that Dish owns SlingMedia, which lets consumers watch their home TV on any Internet-connected PC, tablet, or smartphone, and Dish already has relationships in place with programmers.

"You could imagine a much more robust, coherent, branded offering where they go to town on mobile video based on key assets they have and try to differentiate," he says, adding that the service could also undercut its competitors on price. Dish has already been going the value-player route, while Sprint has emphasized the simplicity of its unlimited data plans.

Roberts thinks it may take awhile for Sprint and Dish to introduce a mobile video offering. If it even wins out over Softbank and gets approved, competing on the triple play bundle will be job number one. Then, the pair can turn to building a unique LTE mobile video service based on their spectrum holdings and other assets, he says.

"Initially they are playing catch up," Roberts adds. "They are trying to get up to parity, but they have the advantage of starting from scratch and potentially leapfrogging the competition."

-- Sarah Reedy, contributing editor, Light Reading

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Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/18/2013 | 4:56:39 PM
re: Dish-Sprint Marriage Could Breed Mobile Video
That's true, and smart from a capacity perspective. There are others pursuing it (OMVC has been for years, it seems -- Dyle and MyDTV, too). Dish and Sprint would have the advantage of being able to price it attractively and market it to an existing subscriber base.-á
joanengebretson
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joanengebretson,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/18/2013 | 3:11:57 PM
re: Dish-Sprint Marriage Could Breed Mobile Video
What Dish is proposing is a broadcast approach to mobile video, which seems like the way the industry will have to go to keep video traffic from overwhelming mobile data networks. I don't think they'll be the only company pursuing this approach moving forward.
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/18/2013 | 2:29:57 PM
re: Dish-Sprint Marriage Could Breed Mobile Video
Dish isn't exactly a content provider, but it does have those partnerships in place. Do you mean this deal, Dish & Sprint, specifically, should have happened awhile back, or just in general, integrating content and networks? What other M&A deals do you expect to follow?
Kishore Karnam
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Kishore Karnam,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/18/2013 | 4:06:31 AM
re: Dish-Sprint Marriage Could Breed Mobile Video
The partnership/M&A between content providers and network providers is a natural progression and should have happened some time back. With a more tighter bond now, this development will trigger similar deals with other players as well. -á
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/17/2013 | 3:14:17 PM
re: Dish-Sprint Marriage Could Breed Mobile Video
Dish/Sprint could also price mobile video/TV in a way that makes it more palatable to consumers. No one wants to pay another,-áseparate-ásubscription fee for mobile service, which has been the norm so far. With their combined bundle, mobile TV could be tacked on. I could also see them going to the ad-supported route or offering promotions that include 6 months free, much like they do for TV now.
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