Dish Network has been on a major spending spree in recent months, buying up nearly $3 billion worth of broadband spectrum and dropping a reported $320 million for the Blockbuster video chain in April. According to the Los Angeles Times, it’s all part of Dish’s grand plan to position itself as a Netflix streaming rival and wireless communications provider.
“We are putting together the building blocks to be able to provide a whole suite of services to the customer,” Dish President and CEO Joe Clayton told the newspaper in an interview. “Wireless voice, broadband, video, mobile… we're going to have the capability to do all of the above.”
With 14.2 million subscribers, Dish is the third largest multichannel video program distributor after Comcast and DirecTV, but like all pay-TV providers, has been facing the threat of cord-cutters turning to Netflix and the Internet for content.
Clayton sees no reason why Dish can’t turn Blockbuster into a legitimate competitor in the streaming market, too. “Everybody's enamored with Netflix. Who's to say we can't do the same thing?” he said. “We have access to the studios, we have access to huge movie libraries.”
He also seemed convinced that Hollywood would surely welcome another bidder for its content, asking, “Don't you think they would encourage us to get into this business?”
As for when the Blockbuster streaming service would actually launch, Clayton would only say, “Sooner is always better.”
But Blockbuster isn't going streaming-only. Dish plans to keep 1,500 of the chain's existing 1,700 stores open. In addition to DVD rentals, Clayton said that the stores could be used as promotional platforms for other Dish services, and possibly as retailers for consumer electronics.
Clayton was much less open on the subject of Dish’s broadband plans. “It's still somewhat nebulous,” he told the newspaper, adding that the company would like to partner with an existing wireless provider rather than build its own network from the ground up.