Will Dish Network stream movies?

Now that the satellite TV provider has won the fire-sale auction for bankrupt Blockbuster, an online movie catalog could be in the works.

By InvestorPlace Apr 6, 2011 8:48AM

investorplace logoImage: Movies (© Comstock/SuperStock)Ask subscribers to Dish Network (DISH) why they choose the satellite television provider, and the most common answer is likely to be cost. Dish is cheaper than major cable providers like Comcast (CMCSA) and satellite rival DirecTV (DTV), starting at just $24.99 a month.

But things might not continue to be so simple now. Dish announced early Wednesday that it has bought the defunct library of the one-time movie-rental powerhouse Blockbuster for $320 million at auction, a deal that could present another big reason consumers will buy into Dish: a digital library of movies they can access over the Internet, akin to Netflix.

The purchase of Blockbuster is an important strategic shift for Dish. It means the company is flexing its muscle in an attempt to become a major player.

But more importantly for consumers, it may mean more viewing options and competitive pricing for consumers. Blockbuster's online content library could give Dish Network an opportunity to create an online product to supplement the viewing experience akin to Netflix's offering mail-order DVDs alongside streaming content.

That's just speculation, but it would align with the overall goal of Dish Network to provide a top-notch experience even as it is seen as a low-cost option. In recent years, the network has expanded HD offerings, on-demand movies and channel selection to make quality a bigger part of the equation.

And now that Dish Network has snapped up Blockbuster and its content, customers may find many more reasons to like Dish than just the smaller monthly bill. That means rivals had better take notice in the wake of the $320 million bankruptcy sale.

Of course, it is going to be an uphill battle for Dish. Netflix (NFLX) now has 20 million viewers, and its stock has skyrocketed more than 700% in the past five years.

DirecTV revenue for 2011 is slated for $26.5 billion -- growth of more than 50% from fiscal 2006 -- and the stock has soared more than 180% in the past five years. This growth isn't anything to sneeze at.

By contrast, Dish has been left out of the party. Shares and revenue haven't shown much action over the past five years. The company has been soundly profitable, but Dish has clearly been a secondary player in a secondary television provider market.

Still, the purchase of Blockbuster and the $1.4 billion purchase of hybrid satellite-land-line communications provider DBSD North America earlier this year mean Dish is flexing its muscle. Likely results could be more viewing options and competitive pricing for consumers, and the chance that DISH stock could break out of its slump.

Obviously, no one should count chickens before they are hatched. The winning bid must still be approved by a bankruptcy court Thursday, and Dish clearly has a long way to go. Entrenched cable giants like Comcast are digging in, Netflix is the undisputed king of online content and is rolling out original Netflix programming, and satellite leader DirecTV isn't going to give up any of its 19 million-plus subscribers without a fight.

But moving sideways for another five years just isn't an option if Dish Network wants to stay around. The timing and fire-sale price of Blockbuster assets make the move a smart one, regardless of whether it pays off.

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Apr 6, 2011 10:36AM
Just to offer a different POV...we've had DISH network for years.  Any time I had to deal with customer service I have had NO problem communicating with them.  I find them easy to work with, friendly and absolutely determined to solve any problems that I called with.  I had two of their original DVRs (OLD!) and anytime I had to call more than three times, they sent out a refurbished machine (didn't manufacture the old ones any more).  Recently, I was upgraded to the HDTV DVR with two lines on it.  AWESOME machine, and the upgrade was free....as a thank you to existing customers.  Also included was HDTV programming for life ($10.00/mo. normally).  I knew this article would bring out the haters and complainers, so I thought I'd give a different view of things.  And NO, I do not work for DISH.  Just a satisfied customer. 
Apr 6, 2011 9:54AM
Dish can buy all the companies they want, but their customer service sucks.  Good luck getting a quick and easy answer.  Until they move their customer service to the U.S. where people can understand and communicate, they are a lost cause.
Apr 6, 2011 2:04PM
The thing that makes me the most upset with Dish is that they treat new customers so much better than loyal customers that have been around for years. 

New Customer?  Here, free HD for life, multiple HDDVR receivers at no extra charge, free channels tossed in. 

Existing long term loyal customer?  Want Free HD for life? sure you can get that, pay us $100 (ya that means it isn't free).  You need an extra HD reciever because even though your reciever is HD and can run 2 TV's only one is HD, Sorry, unlike the new customers, that is a bunch extra.  We know you are a loyal customer, and we appreciate your business by giving you a big screw off!!!
Apr 6, 2011 11:27AM
I'm afraid it would take more than that for Dish to get my business back.  Like a couple of others here, i was very unhappy with their customer service.  I had been a customer for 8 years and needed a replacement remote.  The touch pads wear out eventually, and need to be replaced. When I called Customer Service they told me it would cost me $22.95 for a REFURBISHED remote.  I told them that was ridiculous and cancelled my service and ordered cable.  An hour later someone from Sales called to find out why I cancelled, and when I told him he said he would send me a remote at no charge immediately, seeing that I was a long time customer.  I told him it was too late, and that I had already switched to cable.  Why would the sales department have the authority to send me a replacement remote for free, and customer service can't do that?  I have never regretted my decision to switch.  Recently one of my remotes went out, and my cable company sent me a brand new one at no charge.
Apr 6, 2011 2:33PM

After reading several comments, I believe I may be able to educate the general public. I have been an installer of satellite tv services since the early 90's. Having dealt with such systems as C-Band, L-Band, Ku/Ka Band, and the like.since 1994/95, DirecTV has been the flagship DBS company. Dish Network was soon to follow. A rental-only system named Primestar was introduced, to those  who lacked the "up-front cost" of the two other entities. DirecTV, seeking to absorb that demographic, launched an ad campaign to "transfer to DirecTV from Primestar".

This plan promised to keep costs down while providing superior service overall. When this occurred, Primestar had no choice but to concede. The most advantageous of customer bases had to be those which resided in rural areas. so DirecTV , after cornering yet another niche market, was a success. Now, flash-forward to HDTV. Another mysterious enigma, indeed. Most laypeople are unaware of the following; The ONLY  free television signal,(read; legal) which is not compressed , or adulterated, (resulting in resolution loss, audio dropouts, etc) is from a terrestrial antenna!! Ta-Dah! Yes, those old, rusty, ugly mechanical anomalies, are, despite their appearance, the industry leader in technical specifications for HDTV. Granted, one has to factor in the demographics when considering  MATV systems. The disadvantages include; antiquated equipment ( fairly inexpensive to upgrade), poor physical location,(trees, radio inteference,etc), and lastly, misinformation.  While MATV systems lack the quantity of channels offered by CATV systems, Cable TV lobbyists have long been hyping their wares to many deep-pocketed entities all the while duping the public of simple physics. A little education may shed some light on this subject. Netflix has been stamped on many fronts as of late. XBox, PlayStation 3, etc. If the product works, use it. Well, from personal experience, although I was mildly impressed with the selection, the mechanics of streaming online media have a few bugs not yet worked out. My 50 year old eyes, could certainly tell the difference, The signal quality from Netflix is deplorable. I'd sooner drag my VHS collection from the attic. I hope this provides insight  to those unaware. The toughest part of being a satellite customer is indeed the service. All to many times the service technician goes unappreciated. These governing entities see things merely by numbers. They will make techs absorb the cost of their time, even when it is a system issue,(which it often IS) Nobody's perfect, but they'll keep selling that idea!! Cheers!  " Bob the Tech "


Apr 6, 2011 10:35AM
I actually like DISH.  Their basic channel package includes channels that I like.  Also, I find it very easy to navigate through too.  My mom has DirecTV and I don't like navigating through it. It's a bit of a pain.  So basically, I'm pretty excited about this.  We use Netflix and like it, but there are only so many movies available to stream with Netflix.  I'm hoping that DISH will offer more obscure movies for streaming.
Apr 6, 2011 11:00AM
We have had Dish for 3 years now and had no problems with them. They recently gave us the movie channels for free for being good customers. We chose Dish because of price and channels, Directv didn't have Veria and some other less known channels. Cable is out of the question as we have had cable a couple of times in the past and always had problems with signal and not much choice in channels.
We just upgraded to HD TV. The tech was great they sent out. I like the wireless to the second TV. I would recommend DISH to anyone. Keep up the good work.
Apr 6, 2011 11:28AM
this could be good for DISH subsrcibers...like me!
Apr 6, 2011 1:56PM

I have had Dish for a little less than 2 years.  I signed a 2 year contract and 9 months in my rates went up significantly.  When trying to get tech support you have to weed through the language barrier.  They can't venture off the script but the most upsetting thing is that they try to tell that they are Randy from Illinois when in actuality you know they are Raj from India.  It's the most frustrating thing I've had to encounter.  When I complained about the contract issue I was met with a rude person that basically told me to go to hell.  We finally decided to end the contract, I was told to return the equipment at my own expense.  I asked for the nearest center in my area and was told that there wasn't any.  That was a bit strange because I didn't install the dish or the boxes someone from DISH did.  Needless to say I have a little over 3 more months on the contract and when it's up it's up.


Every time I see the DISH CEO on TV I just want to GAG!!!!  Stay away!!!

Apr 6, 2011 11:09AM


you are so wrong. Blockbuster content is unique. Their library is far larger than Netflix, their streaming is far superior and you can get games as well as movies. Does NF offer games? So before you spout your ignorant statements please check your facts!

Apr 6, 2011 2:42PM

We got rid of satellite last year. We couldnt justify 80 bucks a month for the service. We bought Roku boxes that paid for themselves in 2 months and stream Netflix and Hulu Plus and have a digital antenna for local channels. It was a bit of an adjustment not having a DVR but we really arent missing anything and it is only costing us 23 bucks a month now instead of 80+.


Cable or satellite just keeps getting more expensive and they arent doing any favors to their subscribers. I know that Dish has to do somethng to compete but if more people get educated about other options like streaming, more and more people are going to get rid of cable and satellite.


I wonder about movie theatres and their demise. It is getting so expensive to go to the movies. What if you could pay say 15 bucks to stream and watch a premiere movie in HD on the Friday it comes out in your own home on your home theatre system? Why go to the theatre - pop your own popcorn, get your own group of people together for a movie watching party, pause it is you had to - it would change the whole social experience of movie watching.


Apr 6, 2011 11:11AM
Ummm - DirecTV has been streaming movies (even movies still out in theatres for months) - the catalog contains tons of free stuff, as well as premium content. How is Dish playing catchup really news?
Apr 6, 2011 10:50AM
I had been a dish customer for 10 years and had to go with charter since it was not avaible were we are located. I miss dish network and they are great. We also use the blockbuster online monthly program. I am glad to see that dish is going to try to get blockbuster in their bankruptcy.
Apr 6, 2011 1:08PM
This is a very good move on dish's part.  Direct tv's customer service has plummeted in recent years.  The only reason i have stuck with direct tv is because of sunday ticket.  i didnt even purchase that this year because of personal budget issues.  if dish can make movie lovers happy it will have a legitimate shot at taking down a significant part of the market. 
Apr 6, 2011 10:53AM
We finally gave up on Dish. Fading signals, redundant programming and it can get expensive if you want more then a couple receivers. Although I think they offer good pricing. In order to get the channels you want. You end up moving up the package system. I think Dish could compete with the likes of Netflix if it can offer more. But I see Dish trying to get you signed up for their Satellite service too. It will be interesting to see what they do.
Apr 6, 2011 2:06PM
Me personally, I'm happy to see Blockbuster hanging in there. Despite the historical "family values" issues they've encountered, they are a source of American jobs. I'm a little tired of the "where are the jobs?" debate, when everyone wants technology to do things that people once preformed. And were paid for. Blockbuster has a great plan for $20. Up to 3 movies at once, unlimited instore exchanges or exchanges by mail, online, you get coupons for video game rentals (that'll keep the kids happy). There are so many options but people love Netflix because they don't leave their homes. I can be done with a movie, go exchange it in store for another, watch it, take it back and another comes in the mail. Not to mention you get coupons for candy and soda if that's your cup of tea. I hope Blockbuster makes it, they employed several of my friends in high school. I don't think it's fair to take that away from American kids and adults.
Apr 6, 2011 1:25PM
I would hope that the advisers at Dish had done their research. Netflix not only has mail order that is hard to beat, it has online service to anyone who has an internet connection which includes Xbox live. The company with the cheapest internet will be the winner. Movies you can get any where.
Apr 6, 2011 1:25PM

Satellite TV is better than Cable.  I have had Dish for 10 years and never had the problems I experienced with Cable.  I have heard good things about DirectTV from people I know who have it.  I went with Dish because it was cheaper than DirectTV. 

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