Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen doesn't think his company's new OTT video service is going to change the world in 2014, but at least it will get off the ground this year.
With that modest sentiment, Ergen confirmed in yesterday's earnings call that Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) still plans to launch an online video offering before the end of the year. The new service will be targeted at the 18- to 35-year-old crowd; it will skew male and urban; and it will appeal to sports enthusiasts. Ergen couldn't pinpoint a price for the subscription service, but he did say that a $30 monthly fee "sounds in the ballpark."
That figure stands in stark contrast to rumors that Sony's new OTT service will debut at somewhere between $60 and $80 per month. (See Sony, Dish Hit OTT TV Pricing Wall.)
The full programming lineup for Dish's streaming service is still unknown, but Disney-owned networks, including ESPN, will play a significant role in the offering. Dish has also signed deals with A&E networks and Scripps. According to a report by Variety last month, Dish may try to separate out broadcast channels from the baseline OTT service and encourage consumers to access those networks for free over the air. (See No Mickey Mouse Deal for Dish.)
From a monetization perspective, Ergen made the point in yesterday's presentation that one of the big benefits of launching an online video service will come from addressable advertising. "The advertising opportunity, I think, is immense in OTT, not in 2015, but as you go forward, because we can just -- we can stream a personalized ad to everybody," said Ergen. "We can start moving into some of the categories that the Facebooks and the Googles of the world are taking advantage of today."
Ergen acknowledged that there have been some hiccups in developing Dish's OTT service, and that issues such as billing, encryption and ad insertion have not been easy to manage. However, he said that Dish has worked through many of the problems. "We're now actually doing it," commented Ergen, "and when you start doing it, it's not theory anymore, it's actual practicality."
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading