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Dish Said to Bow Blockbuster Streaming Service Sept. 23

19 Sep, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The satellite TV operator’s stated desire to take on Netflix appears to be more than bravado from CEO Joe Clayton

Dish Network Corp. will announce plans (dubbed "A Stream Comes True") for a probable Blockbuster streaming service Sept. 23 intended to directly compete with Netflix.

Dish, which bought Blockbuster in April for $320 million, will reveal the subscription service, pricing and additional details of the unnamed service in a press conference Friday, according to a spokesperson.

The Blockbuster streaming service will be offered to Dish satellite subscribers as part of their monthly plan. A separate offering to non-Dish subscribers would be offered in the future.

The satellite TV operator, which in April acquired Blockbuster in an auction sale, has made no secret its desire to take on Netflix. New CEO Joe Clayton last month told the Los Angeles Times he didn’t believe Netflix would corner the burgeoning SVOD market.

“If I were them, I'd be watching what's going on,” Clayton told the Times.

Clayton, who previously headed Sirius Satellite Radio and was instrumental with its merger with XM Satellite Radio, confirmed Dish would maintain a Blockbuster store-based business model with ancillary business opportunities tied to Dish’s satellite TV platform.

Indeed, new Dish subscribers automatically receive a 90-day store membership to Blockbuster. In addition, Blockbuster On Demand transactional VOD titles are available on street date through Dish and online.

Dish has aggressively acquired about $3 billion worth of wireless spectrum, which analysts say the company could evolve into a proprietary 4G network.

Michael Pachter, director of research with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, questioned the depth of Blockbuster's streaming content, considering Dish is mending fences with studios regarding Blockbuster's previous license deals.

"They don't have the content yet to effectively compete with Netflix," Pachter said.

Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn in August said he wasn’t surprised by Clayton’s remarks, considering Dish bought Blockbuster for more than its 1,500 stores.

“What exactly they will do with it and what their service will look like, that’s the question,” Rayburn told Home Media Magazine. “I think they could compete, but [it's] too early to say until we know what they offer.”

A representative from Dish/Blockbuster LLC declined to comment.


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