DISH hops out fighting

7 January 2013 by Steve Blum
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Joe Clayton takes a combative stance.

“If skipping commercials is illegal, I guess we're all just a nation of outlaws,” said Joe Clayton, DISH CEO. He was speaking at a CES press conference today, defending the AutoHop feature on DISH's Hopper set top boxes and calling for change. Change in the pay TV business model, change in the attitudes of networks and change in industry attitudes towards consumers.

Clayton was positioning himself as a consumer advocate, saying the industry was moving toward “a tipping point” on programming costs. His answer is to push back hard, which “might involve channel take downs from time to time”, something he acknowledges can be “unsettling to consumers” but also “necessary to slow rapidly spiraling content costs.”

DISH is pushing ahead with enabling subscribers to shift viewing in time and space, which won't make networks and content owners universally happy. The DISH Anywhere project is built on top of Sling technology, which will now be built into the Hopper STBs and support viewing on Android and iOS mobile devices as well as laptop and desktop computers.

Support for iPads was showcased. The DISH Transfer app allows subscribers to copy programming directly to an iPad for later viewing offline, via a Sling-enabled STB. A “second screen” app – DISH Explorer – turns an iPad into a combination remote control and on-screen guide, and connects it to social media.

It's a combative stance, but completely in keeping with DISH's history as a independent and sometimes idiosyncratic pay TV platform. The content owners and distributors who sell to and through DISH don't like it, but even they won't dare tell 14 million customers to take a hop.