Will Dish Be First Big Cable Company To Enter Internet-Only TV Race?

For the last few years, cable and satellite providers have been making more and more channels available for live streaming over the Internet. But you had to be a subscriber to a standard TV package in order to reap that added benefit. Now a new report claims that Dish is trying to convince some broadcasting biggies to join them as they dip their toes into the Internet-only pool.

According to Bloomberg, Dish has been having chats with Viacom, Scripps (the folks behind the Food Network, HGTV and others), and Univision about offering some of their channels in lower-priced, smaller bundles that would be accessible via computers and tablets.

Bloomberg points out that it would make sense for Dish, which is lagging behind DirecTV in the satellite market, to try something like this, as it’s a way for the company to offer a product that is more custom-fit to a customer’s needs — and which wouldn’t necessarily include some of those channels that keep cable customers’ rates high.

The sources for the story say that the broadcasters would likely charge Dish more per channel, but that the satellite company would make out in the end by not having to buy a broadcaster’s entire bundle of channels.

While the Bloomberg report does get to a couple of the big issues facing a product described by the insiders — the lack of any sports content; the fact that Neilsen doesn’t measure online ratings the same way they track broadcast viewership — it doesn’t look at what we consider one of the biggest hurdles: The fact that Dish does not offer its own fixed broadband service.

This means that customers will likely need to rely on companies like Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Comcast to provide Dish’s online offering. If any of these businesses — especially Comcast, as it is a cable provider, an ISP and one of the nation’s largest broadcasters — get into the Internet-only race alongside Dish, they would seem to have a built-in advantage over the satellite provider.

Of course, this is all hushed talk from anonymous sources right now, so until an actual plan with prices is announced, we can only dream about a day when we’re not tied to broadcaster’s unwieldy bundles.