Sling TV Gets New Group President

Michael Schwimmer has been named group president of Sling TV, following the departure of Warren Schlichting, Dish Network Corp. announced.

Schwimmer, who returned to Dish in June 2019 to lead international business development and strategy, will report to Dish CEO Erik Carlson.

During his career at Dish, which began in 1996, Schwimmer led the company’s marketing, programming and media sales organizations and played a key role in launching the Dish International and DishLATINO brands. In addition to his work on Sling TV’s international business, he honed his over-the-top expertise at Fuse Media, where he served as president and CEO. In his new role, Schwimmer will be responsible for all aspects of the Sling TV business. He has also assumed responsibility for Dish Media Sales.

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Kevin Arrix, SVP, Dish Media Sales, will now report to Schwimmer, and will continue to be responsible for the company’s advertising sales, analytics and operations.

Dish Launches Offer for Military, Veterans and First Responders

On the eve of Memorial Day weekend, Dish has launched a new special customer offer tailored to active duty military, veterans and first responders.

The offer gives qualifying new and existing customers complimentary custom programming, a monthly family movie night courtesy of Dish and the ability to watch TV anywhere.

“Dish understands that life can be complex for military and first responders, and sometimes they just want to unwind,” Jay Roth, chief marketing officer at Dish, said in a statement. “From providing a monthly On Demand family movie night, to making sure they can stream hometown content while deployed, we designed this new offer as a way to enjoy time with loved ones and relax at the end of a long day. It’s all part of our commitment to being ‘Tuned In To You.’”

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With the new offer, qualifying customers will receive the below benefits at no additional cost, valued at more than $500 over two years, according to Dish:

 

  • “Stars and Stripes Pack,” which features access to a suite of custom-curated channels, including Starz Encore Westerns, Smithsonian Channel, American Heroes Channel and more;
  • “monthly family movie night,” offering the first On Demand movie rental each month at no cost; and
  • “TV anywhere you go,” a DVR upgrade to a compatible Hopper family set-top box, allowing qualified participants to stream 100% of live and recorded TV to mobile devices with Dish Anywhere with no upfront upgrade fees required.

 

Earlier this month, Dish also unveiled a special offer for new customers 55 and older, including free On Demand content and a discount on worry-free protection with the Dish Gold protection package.

Kagan Research Finds Legacy Video Sub Losses Accelerated in Q4 2018

Traditional multichannel video subscription losses swelled in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to research from Kagan, a group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Kagan’s fourth-quarter 2018 U.S. Multichannel Subscription Report tallied legacy video subs under 90 million. Combined, the cable, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) and telecom multichannel sectors lost nearly 1.1 million subscriptions in the fourth quarter, which pushed the full-year decline to 4 million, according to the report. DBS services accounted for more than half of the annual loss.

Virtual platforms partially offset the traditional multichannel declines, keeping those customers in a subscription package of live linear channels, but gains to services such as Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV were not enough to prevent the space from shrinking, according to the report. Traditional and virtual multichannel subscriptions combined fell nearly 1.3 million for the year.

Additional findings in the report were: 

  • The residential penetration rate for virtual and traditional multichannel services ticked down to 75% in the fourth quarter of 2018.
  • Multiple-system operators (MSOs) wrapped up 2018 with another round of quarterly losses, bringing the platform’s annual decline to nearly 1.3 million, versus a drop of 997,000 in 2017.
  • Telco video services cut combined annual subscriber losses for a second consecutive year, losing 351,000 subs to end 2018 at 10.3 million.
  • DirecTV and Dish each lost more than 1 million subs in 2018.

Dish to Give $1 per Dish Anywhere App Download in December to Toys for Tots

Dish has launched a holiday-giving initiative called “Dollars for Downloads” to benefit the Marine Toys for Tots Program. For every Dish Anywhere app that customers download to compatible devices this December, DISH will donate $1 to Toys for Tots, helping the organization in its mission of delivering toys and books to underserved children, according to the company.

“We’re excited to partner with Toys for Tots and give back to the communities Dish customers know and love,” said Jay Roth, Dish chief marketing officer, in a statement. “By simply downloading the free Dish Anywhere app, our customers can join us in supporting the holiday dreams of thousands of children this season.”

Dish Anywhere is a free app that gives customers the ability to watch their live and recorded content, as well as thousands of on-demand titles, from any location on internet-connected mobile devices, including smart phones, tablets and computers, and televisions via Amazon Fire TV and Android TV, according to Dish.

“Some folks may not realize that when you sign up for Dish, it’s like you’re getting two different subscriptions — the most reliable TV experience from the comfort of your living room, as well as the ability to watch your live and recorded programs and stream on-demand content via our DISH Anywhere app,” said Roth in a statement. “Downloading our free app this holiday season helps to spread joy to thousands of Toys for Tots kids, with the added benefit of access to TV while on-the-go at places like malls and airports.”

Toys for Tots has been delivering toys, books and other gifts to disadvantaged children since 1947. The program distributes an average of 18 million gifts annually and has given to more than 251 million children across 800 communities nationwide in its 71-year history.

“Dollars for Downloads” is a DISH Cares initiative, supporting the program’s focus on military support and youth empowerment, according to Dish. Dish employees participate in holiday toy drives at its Denver headquarters and nationwide satellite offices through Dish Cares, donating thousands of gifts to children and seniors each year, according to the company.

Dish Appoints Nallapati SVP and Chief Digital Officer

Dish has appointed Suma Nallapati SVP and chief digital officer, reporting to chief information officer Atilla Tinic.

Nallapati currently serves on Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s cabinet as Secretary of Technology and State CIO. She will join Dish in mid-January when Colorado Governor-Elect Jared Polis assumes the office.

Nallapati will lead Dish’s application delivery and digital strategy implementation. Her technology portfolio will include sales, e-commerce, customer and partner management, billing, and other various operational support systems.

“Suma’s mission is to ensure Dish is well positioned with the applications and platforms that deliver a best-in-class customer and employee experience for our current businesses, and set the stage for our future wireless business,” said John Swieringa, EVP and COO, in a statement.

Nallapati was appointed Colorado CIO, a state cabinet-level position, by Governor Hickenlooper in 2014. Prior to her role leading Colorado’s Office of Information Technology, Nallapati served Catholic Health Initiatives, one of the nation’s largest healthcare networks, as associate VP of service delivery. Nallapati began her IT career as a programmer for Dish in 1997. Nallapati was named “CIO of the Year” earlier this month by the Colorado Technology Association and was also named a 2017 Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Colorado honoree by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

“Suma always kept Colorado on the cutting edge of innovation,” said Governor John Hickenlooper in his announcement of Nallapati’s new role. “She guided us through many groundbreaking initiatives and provided a steady hand as we faced tough technology challenges. She will be a valuable addition at Dish.”

“Dish gave me the opportunity and encouragement to thrive in IT and I’m so thrilled to be coming full circle,” said Nallapati in a statement. “Dish was a vibrant entrepreneurial culture 21 years ago when I first joined, and as it moves to launch its first wireless network I’m pleased to see Dish continue to foster that spirit.”

She holds her master’s degree in nuclear physics from the Andhra University India.

Dish Announces ‘Anticompetitive’ AT&T Has Pulled HBO and Cinemax From Its Services

Dish late Oct. 31 announced that AT&T had pulled HBO and Cinemax content from Dish and Sling TV subscribers, calling the move “anticompetitive.”

The Dish release states that the “AT&T-DirecTV-Time Warner mega merger has allowed the giant conglomerate to relentlessly exert power and influence over competing pay-TV providers and consumers.”

Dish announced the action came after AT&T made “untenable demands designed specifically to harm customers, particularly those in rural areas, as well as damage competing pay-TV providers.”

The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the AT&T-Time Warner lawsuit and Aug. 6 appealed the court’s decision to allow the merger. Following the merger’s approval, subsidiary WarnerMedia announced plans for a subscription streaming service.

“There were no guidelines set in place to ensure that AT&T ‘played fair’ for HBO and Cinemax subscribers, regardless of their pay-TV provider,” according to Dish.

“Plain and simple, the merger created for AT&T immense power over consumers,” said Andy LeCuyer, Dish SVP of programming, in a statement. “It seems AT&T is implementing a new strategy to shut off its recently acquired content from other distributors. This may be the first of many HBO blackouts for consumers across the country. AT&T no longer has incentive to come to an agreement on behalf of consumer choice; instead, it’s been given the power to grab more money or steal away customers.”

The blackout “is exceptionally harmful to rural Americans who don’t have the same broadband access as customers living in large cities,” according to a Dish release. “Customers with sufficient internet service can substitute HBO Now, the direct-to-consumer streaming offering from HBO. The majority of DISH’s HBO subscriber base is located in rural areas with limited broadband access and likely won’t be able to watch HBO or Cinemax without a satellite connection,” the release stated.

“AT&T’s actions are a deliberate slap in the face to rural Americans,” said LeCuyer in a statement. “And furthermore, they are anticompetitive. AT&T, a company worth more than $200 billion, is intentionally punishing those who don’t have big-city broadband access, in an attempt to push customers to the only other satellite provider, its own DirecTV.”

AT&T is demanding Dish pay for a guaranteed number of subscribers, regardless of how many consumers actually want to subscribe to HBO, according to Dish.

“AT&T is stacking the deck with free-for-life offerings to wireless customers and slashed prices on streaming services, effectively trying to force Dish to subsidize HBO on AT&T’s platforms,” said LeCuyer in a statement. “This is the exact anticompetitive behavior that critics of the AT&T-Time Warner merger warned us about. Every pay-TV company should be concerned.”

“Dish would welcome binding, baseball-style arbitration to determine the fair market value of HBO and Cinemax,” the Dish release states. “During the arbitration process, AT&T would be required to restore its channels to Dish customers.”

“Rather than trying to force consumers onto their platforms, we suggest that AT&T try to achieve its financial goals through simple economics: if consumers want your product, they’ll pay for it. We hope AT&T will reconsider its demands and help us reach a swift, fair resolution,” said LeCuyer in a statement.

Dish and eligible Sling TV customers will be credited on their bill for time they do not receive HBO or Cinemax, Dish announced, adding the company is also offering customers a free preview of HDNET Movies.

Epix Partners With Dish and Layer3 TV to Offer 4K Ultra HD Content

Pay TV network Epix has partnered with Dish and Layer3 TV, a T-Mobile company, to roll out its new 4K Ultra HD offering.

Epix subscribers on Dish and Layer3 TV will have access to a VOD package of 4K Ultra HD content directly on their set-top boxes. Additionally, all Epix subscribers from all affiliates can access 4K Ultra HD content through the authenticated Epix Apple TV app.

Dish and Layer3 TV subscribers now have access through multiple platforms to select Hollywood movies in 4K Ultra HD, including Arrival, The Magnificent Seven, Star Trek Beyond, Ben Hur and Transformers: The Last Knight and, coming later this year, films from the James Bond franchise, Die Another Day, GoldenEye, Licence To Kill, Tomorrow Never Dies, Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, and The Spy Who Loved Me.

“Epix is committed to embracing new technologies to provide subscribers with the best viewing experience of our premium original programming and movies,” said Monty Sarhan, EVP and GM of Epix, in a statement. “We are pleased to partner with Dish and Layer3 TV to deliver this advanced offering to a wider audience, and look forward to working with more distributors to include 4K Ultra HD as part of their entertainment packages.”

“While 4K televisions have become a staple in households throughout the U.S., 4K shows and movies are still a bit of a rarity,” said Vivek Khemka, Dish EVP and chief technology officer, in a statement. “That’s why we’re continuously working to bring more of this content into our customers’ homes, and are pleased to work with Epix so subscribers can access more TV in crystal-clear clarity, directly from their Hopper 3 and 4K Joey set-top boxes.”

“We’re hyper-focused on delivering the highest quality content to Layer3 TV customers,” said Jeffrey Binder, EVP home and entertainment, T-Mobile, in a statement. “It’s something our customers have come to expect, and we’re thrilled to be one of the first to partner with Epix to deliver their premium 4K content to Layer3 TV subscribers.”

DISH has carried Epix programming since 2010 and provides television entertainment and technology to millions of customers with its satellite Dish TV and streaming Sling TV services. Layer3 TV launched Epix in 2017.

Dish Debuts Google Assistant Voice Control

Dish July 9 debuted its integration with the Google Assistant for a hands-free TV entertainment experience.

Dish customers with a Hopper, Hopper Duo, Joey or Wally can control their TV using their voice when paired with an Assistant device, such as Google Home, Android phones or iPhones.

Dish is the first pay-TV provider to offer direct compatibility with the Assistant.

“Since we first introduced voice control technology, we’ve seen our customers really embrace the hands-free TV experience,” said Niraj Desai, Dish VP of product management, in a statement. “Our collaboration with Google is an exciting opportunity for us to continue meeting demand for voice and changing the way we interact with television.”

“We want to make it easy and fun for people to turn their living room into a smart entertainment center with the Assistant,” said Michele Turner, senior director, Google Smart Home Ecosystem, in a statement. “By working closely with Dish, we’ll ensure that customers can easily control their TVs through the Assistant, instead of searching for or having to share the remote.”

Customers can ask the Assistant to set recordings, adjust volume and launch apps such as Game Finder, Netflix and Pandora. Customers can also use the Assistant to navigate, play, pause, fast-forward, rewind and search content based on channel, title, actor or genre. When using search functionality, the results displayed include Dish’s live, recorded and on-demand titles, as well as Netflix’s selection of TV shows and movies.

Spanish-language support will be coming soon, according to Dish.

Dish Bows New Amazon Alexa Voice Features on Hopper

Dish June 12 introduced new Amazon Alexa voice capabilities that give customers the ability to set recordings, launch apps and navigate menus on Hopper family set-top boxes.

This update enhances the Hands-Free TV experience by building on Dish’s existing Alexa voice functions, including the ability to play, pause, fast-forward, rewind and search content.

“We are working to create the best Hands-Free TV options for our customers, and these new voice capabilities are an important step in that direction,” said Niraj Desai, Dish VP of product management, in a statement. “Dish customers already love the convenience that our Alexa compatibility brings to their home, so we’re continuously identifying popular voice commands to enhance that experience.”

In April 2017, DISH became the first pay-TV provider to offer direct compatibility with Amazon Alexa, according to the company. In October 2017, the company unveiled whole-home Hands-Free TV by extending Alexa support to all Joey clients, according to Dish.

Dish customers can ask Alexa to navigate, play, pause, fast-forward, rewind and search content based on channel, title, actor or genre. With the newest update, customers can also use Alexa to set recordings, launch apps such as Game Finder, Netflix, Pandora and YouTube, and access the Home, Guide, DVR, On Demand, Settings and Help menus.

All Dish customers with an internet-connected Hopper DVR (all generations), Hopper Duo, Joey (all models) or Wally can ask Alexa to control their TV content after pairing with an Amazon Echo, Echo Show, Echo Dot, Fire TV Cube or another Alexa-enabled device. Each Dish set-top box must be paired with its own Alexa device.

For more information, visit www.dish.com/AmazonAlexaIntegration.

Research: OTT Service Subscribers to Grow to 400 Million in 2018

Over-the-top services will reach a subscriber base of 400 million in 2018, according to ABI Research’s recently released Service Provider OTT Services and Set-top boxes Update report.

ABI forecasts that OTT video services will put more pressure on traditional pay-TV services, especially in the developed markets with high broadband and pay-TV penetration. The worldwide OTT video market is expected to grow at CAGR 10% to generate $51.4 billion in 2022, according to ABI.

“OTT video services offer less expensive alternatives and no long-term contract features compared to existing pay-TV offerings that are driving an increasing number of Pay-TV customers to switch to these OTT services,” according to ABI.

In markets such as North America and Europe, pay-TV operators have jumped into the OTT market to improve churn by providing less costly video service. DirecTV’s Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV, and Sky’s Now TV are among the operators which offer Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (vMVPD) services, linear channels via internet connection, according to the report.

“vMVPD services offer live TV packages as low as $10 and customized packages are attracting cost-sensitive customers,” said Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst at ABI Research, in a statement.

Dish Network’s Sling has secured more than 2 million subscribers in the two years since it launched, the report noted. DirecTV Now has gained 1.2 million subscribers within one year of its launch, offsetting the subscriber loss of its satellite TV platform.

“Pay-TV operators recognize the consumer demand for vMVPD services and are trying to expand their OTT offering by providing more content choice to compete against other subscription OTT services such as Netflix,” Lynn stated.

Despite the low cost of basic vMVPD packages, the availability of live sports packages and customization features contribute the higher ARPU compared to other subscription OTT services, according to the report. Hulu and YouTube launched live streaming packages in 2017 creating more competition in the vMVPD market.

“As competition intensifies, content and quality of service are crucial to win the OTT war,” Lynn stated.