Pay-TV In a Box
Bloomberg reported yesterday that Dish Network is in talks with Viacom, Univision and Scripps about offering their channels over the Internet. The real story of those talks, however, may have more to do with set-top streaming box maker Roku than with Dish.
Earlier this year, Dish cut a deal with Roku to provide Roku with a package of foreign-language channels for which Dish owns exclusive rights in the U.S. DishWorld, as the service is called, is available to Roku owners whether or not they also subscribe to Dish’s satellite service. As part of the deal, Dish became a strategic investor in the set-top box maker, taking an undisclosed equity position in the company.
The talks with Viacom, et. al., reportedly involve creating a limited bundle of linear TV channels that could be offered over the Internet for less money than current cable or satellite programming tiers. Embedding that bundle of channels in the Roku set-top, which already includes over 100 on-demand channels, could go a long way toward creating a retail-friendly package consumers could buy and choose their own, customized mix of linear and on-demand channels: pay-TV in a box.
Roku is pretty clearly thinking along those lines. In July, it raised another $45 million investment roundÂ in the U.K. led by Now TV, a new web video service owned by U.K. satellite TV provider BSkyB. Roku said in announcing the investment it would use the new capitalÂ Â to “increase engineering and production to support sales growth of both hardware and digital media services on the platform including advertising, games, transactional and pay-per-view video as well as content packages.”
Dish was rumored to be a silent participant in that deal as well.