THROWBACK THURSDAY: When DISH actually announced Sling TV

Now this is cool. The rest of the world thinks that DISH introduced its Sling TV streaming product at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, but it turns out that I was blogging about it over three years ago. I just didn’t know about it. I talked about a potential streaming-only service, and what-do-ya-know, it came to pass.

Take a look at what I wrote on October 3, 2012. Sound like what we have now?

A world without satellite TV? If DISH Chairman Charlie Ergen has his way, that could be the world we live in someday. Satellite television has been with us for two generations but it may be just a stepping stone to internet-based delivery. It seems DISH is in negotiations with MTV and others to create an internet-only subscription service different from anything else out there today.

Direct Broadcast Satellite television was first created in the 1980s as a response to high costs to lay cable in major cities. While local broadcasting wasn’t capable of providing 50 channels (believe it or not that was a lot of channels in 1985) the hope was that with a simple, dish-shaped antenna, regular folks could get at least 50 channels without cities and towns having to lay expensive cable wires.

As we all know, two companies took up the challenge. Echostar started Dish Network, while rival Hughes started DIRECTV. Both launched in the mid-1990s after a long journey filled with regulatory challenges. Now, after 25 years of operating a satellite fleet, it seems that DISH may be ready to move on. Could the company whose name literally means satellite antenna be giving up satellite?

It could be a smart move. DISH has struggled to keep its satellite fleet current as rival DIRECTV launched a series of RV-sized HD satellites in the mid-2000s. In the meantime, internet technologies have meant a 10,000 times speed increase since the early days of satellite.


What makes this different from Hulu or Netflix?

Hulu and Netflix concentrate on providing pre-recorded material. DISH is talking about providing live TV. Right now, several providers, including DISH and DIRECTV, allow you to stream programming over the internet but you must be a subscriber. DISH is talking about creating a new service that doesn’t require a satellite subscription, and streams the same live content that you would get on satellite.

This could be huge for cord-cutters who are spoiled for choice with previously recorded programs but have no access to live national channels. DISH has been moving strongly into IPTV this year, partnering with ROKU for international programming that’s only available over the internet. That may have been the first shot off the bow for DISH.

Of course, one big question remains… will the company whose name is synonymous with satellite antennas one day change its name?