Dish CEO Joe Clayton thinks he has figured out how to stave off the death of TV: Every new Dish customer gets a free iPad.
Paid cable and satellite TV services are fighting for survival against "cord-cutters" who no longer want to pay for service because they can watch what they want on their laptops and tablets.
Dish today launched a series of new products at CES, the giant consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. But it may be the free iPad offer that seals the deal for consumers. Officially, here is what Dish launched today:
Dish SuperJoey: A DVR that lets you record eight shows at once, thus ending family viewing conflicts.
Wireless Joey: A wifi device that lets you watch on any TV, anywhere in the house, no wires.
Virtual Joey: for Sony PS3 and PS4, so you can watch on your gaming console.
Dish Anywhere mobile app: Updates to the app let you watch live, on demand, or recorded content on your phone or tablet anywhere.
Taken together, Dish's strategy appears to be to copy the online or wireless device companies that are disrupting traditional pay-TV, by providing as-good or better Dish devices that do the same thing. The proposition to customers appears to be: Why bother with Netflix or Roku when Dish can give all that plus regular live TV service, on any device you want? "It is our never-ending goal to provide our customers with simply the best video experience, period," Clayton said.
For many people, however, the capper is likely to be Dish's deal with Apple to provide free iPads to all its customers: Dave Shull, Dish's evp/chief commercial officer, said, "We are so enthusiastic about this partnership with Apple because essentially we are giving them a free TV, and they can take the Hopper experience with them anywhere in the world.”
The obvious risk: the iPad is also an online video gateway to all Dish's competitors.
Dish has 6 million homes with a Hopper or a Joey already, and 14 million customers total, according to the company.