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CES: Shull: Dish Looking to Expand 'Mini Packages' of Channels

Satellite Operator Sees Opportunities for Music, Urban Programming Bundles 1/08/2013 12:33 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, according to senior vice president of programming David Shull.

“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 migrating channels out of core TV packages and 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, Hallmark Movie Channel, GMC, PixL, RFD-TV, OWN, 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 said, speaking earlier on a panel, “Reinventing TV Through Streaming.” “It’s not a sustainable model for content costs to keep going up 8%, 9%, 10% a year without the retail price going up.”

On Monday, Dish CEO Joe Clayton complained about rising programming costs, at the operator's press conference launching 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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