Go Charlie Ergen.
Ever since EchoStar bought Slingbox in 2007, I've been wondering when he was going to do something with their truly groundbreaking technology.
(For the uninitiated: Slingbox is a device that takes your home set top box and gives you complete access to all the content on it - live TV, the contents of your DVR, even your MVPDs On Demand line-up -- wherever you are, even outside the US. That's why it was initially a niche product popular with those like myself who traveled a lot and wanted to be able to watch their home teams and favorite shows. Slingbox is completely legal, well for now anyway.)
But back to Ergen and the the new Sling Hopper, which is exactly what it sounds like: a mash-up of Slingbox service and the Hopper that will allow Dish customers to literally watch all their content everywhere. Not just in their house. Not just in the presence of the Dish internet connection. Not just in the US.
This is huge because no MVPD has been able to make this happen since the networks have not been willing to let them offer any sort of TV Everywhere solution. After some lawsuits in 2011, they slowly gave in and allowed TV Everywhere in your own house. Which meant you could bring the iPad onto the porch and watch a bunch of (mostly uninteresting) channels on it.
Dish completely circumvented that dynamic in a way the networks can't legally attack. (Though I suspect their lawyers are already busy at work looking to change that.)
And that is huge and completely and unalterably changes the dynamic around TV Everywhere. Expect Dish's competitors to follow suit shortly or to at least push back on the networks a whole lot harder. Both in the boardroom and in court.
Not to pile on the kudos, but I was very impressed with the three iPad apps Dish had on display at CES.
Dish Anywhere™ is a basic remote control/EPG/social content and data app that bears a strong resemblance to the KIT SPG - probably why I liked it. It even offers data-based recommendations, e.g. "7508 people are watching this show now.
The Hopper Transfers™ app lets you actually download shows onto your iPad from your SlingHopper so you can watch them on the plane or other places without a WiFi connection.
Dish Explorer is a discovery app that gives you recommendations based on what's popular among other Dish viewers and/or your social graph. (The algorithm, I learned, is based on some Twitter info gleaned from Trendrr along with Dish's own data on what shows are. currently popular. So very top line recommendations, though the "what's popular" feature should prove to be, well, popular.)
If the networks weren't already furious with Ergen for the Hopper, they will be now.
Love to see how this one plays out.
PS: Found this story from BusinessWeek, circa 2011: Big Cable Resists A Slingbox Solution