Dish Network and Disney were locked in a rather boring contract dispute that we’ve seen a thousand times: Disney wanted to charge more for its channels, Dish Network didn’t want to pay, back and forth and back and forth. A deal was cut late last night. But hidden amid the usual spin is a major breakthrough for Internet TV.
Essentially, Dish Network has done something Apple, Google, and Intel couldn’t do and have thrown billions of dollars at achieving: They got the right to stream cable channels over the Internet. And, more than that, they actually got a major channel, one that many believe has to be streaming to break through the dam and change cable. Here’s what happened, according to CNET:
Dish sacrificed the purity of its AutoHop ad-skipping feature to keep up its access to Disney channels, expand customers’ access to mobile app video, and — most importantly — give Dish the right to stream video, live and on demand, as part of an Internet-delivered television service. It makes Dish the first company to publicly seal the kind of content deals essential for Internet TV. Not only that, it netted the most important network for live-TV demand: the king of live sports, ESPN.
AutoHop isn’t gone completely; you just won’t be able to use it for three days on Disney-produced shows. But that’s a small price to pay to break this particular dam.
Why should you, the cable consumer, care? Well, first of all, it means that if you’re a Dish customer, you will be able to watch at least your Disney-produced stuff anywhere you want. Secondly, it lays out how, precisely, cable channels and cable companies can do this for everyone else, and it gives Dish leverage to get the same concessions out of other channels. And, with ESPN’s web of channels involved, it’ll be a feature people will actually use.
It also finally lays the groundwork for cable channels to do what they should have been doing all along; put up Internet streams online. Once every cable provider has these channels up on the Internet, it’s really only a matter of time before the smaller channels realize that, hey, cord-cutters might fork over a buck a month to watch their livestreams too.
This will be limited to Dish and Disney, for now. But the dam has burst, and you can expect some major changes when it comes to the Internet and TV in the next few years.