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Dish: Cut Down the TV Bundle

Dish: Cut Down the TV Bundle 1/13/2013 7:00 PM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — While Dish Network isn’t charting a course toward full a la carte TV pricing, the satellite operator is planning to introduce more “mini packages” of thematically grouped channels similar to those it offers today to manage programming costs, senior vice president of programming David Shull said.

“We think that’s the answer to the bundling conundrum the industry is facing,” Shull said in an interview here at the 2013 International CES.

Dish is evaluating the migration of channels from core TV packages into add-on tiers. Shull said areas the operator is looking at include music and urban networks. “If 70% or 80% of subscribers aren’t watching a network, it doesn’t make sense to keep it” on a core tier, he said.

Dish’s current a la carte bundles include the Heartland Package ($5 per month), which includes Hallmark Channel, GMC, RFD-TV, OWN, The Hub, GSN, Rural TV and Baby TV; and the Outdoor Sports Package ($3 per month), which includes Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, World Fishing Network and MavTV.

In addition, Dish offers the Multi-Sport Pack ($9 per month), which includes NFL Network and NFL RedZone, NBA TV, NHL Network, MLB Network, MLB Strike Zone, Pac-12 Networks, Fox Soccer, Fuel TV, Universal Sports Network, Big Ten Network and more than 20 regional sports networks.

“We have to find a different way to package networks,” Shull, speaking earlier on a panel titled “Reinventing TV Through Streaming,” said. “It’s not a sustainable model for content costs to keep going up 8%, 9%, 10% a year without the retail price going up.”

Elsewhere at CES, Dish CEO Joe Clayton also complained about rising programming costs, raising the issue at the operator’s press conference to launch a version of the Hopper multiroom DVR with embedded Slingbox technology.

Referring to the standoff with AMC Networks last year that left Dish customers without the programmer’s channels for several months, Clayton said such blackouts are “sometimes necessary to slow spiraling programming costs.”

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