Content isn't the only thing going digital in the pay-TV world.
Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) has announced that it will start accepting the digital currency Bitcoin sometime this summer. According to Dish, the move makes it the largest company to accept Bitcoin payments and the first pay-TV provider to do so.
Customers will be able to make one-time payments with Bitcoin on the mydish.com website. The US satellite TV provider plans to use Coinbase's Instant Exchange feature to process the transactions. Coinbase turns digital Bitcoins into US dollars.
Bitcoin works like a digital currency, with transactions encrypted and recorded on a system spread out across a distributed computing network. However, for the moment, the US The Internal Revenue Service has decided to treat Bitcoin not as currency, but rather as property. This means that subscribers who buy a Dish subscription with Bitcoin should be aware that if the rate of exchange with the US dollar gives them a discounted service, they will be on the hook with the government for capital gains.
The IRS may yet change how it classifies Bitcoin. However, the current system adds a layer of complexity to Bitcoin transactions. Dish has made it clear that customers will still be able to pay online through more traditional means, including credit card, debit card, and bank account transfer.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading