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Dish CEO Joe Clayton Retiring March 31

23 Feb, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Joseph Clayton

CEA veteran oversaw launches of Hopper DVR, Dish Net, Sling TV as well as short-lived lifeline to Blockbuster Video

Dish Network Feb. 23 announced that president and CEO Joseph Clayton will retire on March 31, in addition to vacating his position on the satellite TV operator’s board of directors.

Dish founder and chairman Charlie Ergen will reclaim the CEO and president positions he transferred to Clayton in 2011.

While the recent launch of standalone subscription streaming service Sling TV could be a pay-TV game changer depending on consumer response, and Hopper’s ad-skipping technology overcame multiple legal challenges, Clayton’s decision to acquire bankrupt Blockbuster Video in 2011 for $234 million was a headscratcher.

With Redbox dominating packaged-media rentals and Netflix spearheading an OTT video revolution, Dish’s decision to acquire the aging Blockbuster brand and about 1,500 video stores didn’t make sense. Later it was revealed that Dish had sought to use Blockbuster stores as a retail launch pad for a wireless network selling connected devices, including mobile phones.

Dish's inability to get regulatory approval for spectrum rights and other issues ultimately doomed that business strategy. While disc rentals were envisioned to operate as a break-even business, Dish did roll out Blockbuster@Home, a $10 monthly add-on for satellite subs that enabled online access to movie channels, in addition to in-store rentals.

Dish shuttered 300 remaining company-owned Blockbuster stores in January 2014. The Blockbuster brand continues today online dubbed “Blockbuster On Demand".

"Over the last four years, Joe's leadership has been instrumental to Dish as we have worked to engineer a fundamental transformation of our business," Ergen said in a statement. "He has set the stage for what will become a new company, and with that he has prepared a new class of management to address the adventures coming our way."

Ergen's direct reports will include EVP/COO Bernie Han, EVP/general counsel Stanton Dodge, EVP/CHRO Mike McClaskey, EVP/head of corporate development Tom Cullen and Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch.

Meanwhile, Dish reported a loss of 79,000 pay-TV subscribers in the fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2014), ending the fiscal year with 13.9 million subs.

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