There’s a lot of details yet to be disclosed but it looks like DISH is ready to end its 3-year-long carriage dispute with AT&T over HBO, Cinemax, and other WarnerMedia properties.
This is all we have so far:
It’s not a lot to go on, but it’s a start. Considering that HBO has been missing from DISH receivers for about three years, that’s a lot more than we had before. There’s a new page for HBO Max at DISH’s web site, which gives us hope that HBO subscribers on DISH will also be able to use their DISH subscription to sign into the streaming app as well.
Why has this taken so long?
Well, only the lawyers know for sure, but I’m sure it has something to do with AT&T’s ownership of DIRECTV, DISH’s biggest competitor. AT&T had said that it wouldn’t hold its ownership of WarnerMedia over its competitor, and so this can’t be seen as a “shakedown.” However, it’s clear that the negotiations were difficult and long. It’s also probably no surprise that they are coming to an end just as AT&T plans to spin off its DIRECTV unit into a separate enterprise.
No matter why it’s happening, it’s good news, right?
Does this point to a DIRECTV-DISH merger?
Any time there’s some sort of communication between AT&T and DISH, any time you mention DIRECTV and DISH in the same sentence, there is going to be a vocal group who say it’s evidence that a DIRECTV-DISH merger is inevitable. It’s almost funny how quickly this rumor pops up.
I know that DISH’s Charlie Ergen has said that a merger will probably happen in the future. Obviously he’s in a position to make it happen, and I’m not. But I haven’t changed my mind here. I think that especially as the two companies shed subscribers, a merger would be a tragically bad idea.
Other than the fact that they’re both satellite TV companies, DIRECTV and DISH’s technologies could not be more different. The dishes are different. The receivers are different. Even the online components are different. If you started a merger, you’d be asking at least half the people in the combined company who would need an equipment upgrade at some point. This would not only cost the combined company a huge amount of money but drive a lot of unhappiness among customers. It would cause a lot of people to rethink their commitment to their satellite TV company. Handled the wrong way it would lead to lost customers.
The two companies’ move toward live streaming doesn’t change this equation. True, it takes the satellite dish out of the equation. But DISH’s Sling product and AT&T’s AT&T TV product are very different. Both companies have hardware devices which some people use, and would need to be swapped out.
Happy now, happy later
There’s a lot to smile about with today’s news. DISH customers who have long suffered without live HBO channels will now have them. It’s going to simplify their experience. It’s going to make people happy. We’re all looking forward to the official news from DISH, but it’s nice to have something to talk about today.