Dish owes NBA star's company $1.4M for Boost marketing – complaint

LA Clippers point guard Russell Westbrook fronts a company that's suing EchoStar's Dish Network for $1.4 million in unpaid marketing services for Dish's Boost Mobile and Boost Infinite brands.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

May 31, 2024

3 Min Read
The Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook reacts after dunking against the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on February 1, 2019.
Russell Westbrook reacts after dunking in 2019.(Source: Tribune Content Agency LLC / Alamy Stock Photo)

According to a new lawsuit, Dish Network owes $1.4 million to Russell Westbrook Enterprises (RWE), a company owned by basketball star Russell Westbrook, for a marketing campaign centered on Dish's Boost Mobile and Boost Infinite smartphone brands.

"Dish and RWE entered a Marketing Services Agreement effective May 14, 2021. Under the contract ... RWE agreed to provide certain marketing services to Dish, including Boost Mobile and Boost Infinite, related to Dish's mobile phone services," the lawsuit states.

RWE said in the filing that it "met or exceeded" the marketing impression metrics required under its contract with Dish, as measured by DISQO reports. Such reports measure various aspects of advertising effectiveness and consumer behavior. 

However, "Dish never paid RWE the amounts owed under the contract, SOWs [statements of work] and/or invoices, never claimed RWE failed to perform the work under the contract, has never claimed the invoices were improper, and provided no explanation for its failure to pay the amounts owed under the contract," according to the lawsuit.

A Dish representative declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in a Colorado federal court earlier this week. 

According to Forbes, RWE's marketing operation is one of Westbrook's many lines of business. A National Basketball Association (NBA) star point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers, he is the fourteenth highest-paid athlete in the world.

The background

Dish entered the US wireless industry in 2020 with the purchase of around 9 million prepaid Boost Mobile customers from T-Mobile. At the end of 2022, Dish took the wraps off its new Boost Infinite brand, targeting the postpaid sector of the industry.

Toward the end of 2023, Dish sought to catapult the Boost Infinite brand into the mainstream with a major iPhone 15 promotion coupled with a nationwide advertising campaign. Dish hired advertising company Grey New York to develop that new ad campaign.

However, Dish hasn't gained much traction in the US wireless market. The company's mobile customer base has shrunk to around 7.3 million wireless customers. And company officials have acknowledged that Dish's first foray into the postpaid market "was rushed."

Dish officials have also confirmed to Light Reading that the company is reevaluating its wireless marketing strategy amid a leadership shakeup.

"It's no secret we've been reviewing our brands and approach to market," Sean Lee, SVP of marketing and consumer product for Boost Mobile, said in a statement to Light Reading earlier this month. "We have no announcements to share at this time. Please stay tuned as we have exciting things to come in the next few months. There are no changes to services and offerings for current and new Boost Mobile and Boost Infinite customers."

Dish's adventures in marketing are happening alongside the company's efforts to build its own nationwide 5G network. (Most of Dish's existing customers sit on T-Mobile's or AT&T's network via MVNO deals.)

Dish's 5G network currently covers more than 200 million people. EchoStar CEO Hamid Akhavan said recently that, so far, there are "hundreds of thousands of happy customers" on that network.

EchoStar became the parent company of Dish Network late last year. But EchoStar is currently facing a financial crunch that is forcing the company to seek additional cash by November to meet its debt obligations.

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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