August 5, 2010

Dish Network To Offer Live TV On Mobile Devices

Subscribers to Dish Network will soon be able to watch live satellite TV on certain mobile devices.

The satellite television company is planning to offer the service for the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and BlackBerry devices in September, and on mobile phones using Google's Android operating system in October.

Special hardware will be needed to have the service on the mobile devices. Sling Media's SlingBox, which sells for $180 to $300, is one option. Another option will be for Dish subscribers to pay between $200 and $400 to upgrade to a high-definition digital recorder with SlingBox features. Users would have to pay an additional $10 per month for multiple DVR service, but will get recording capabilities with it.

Viewers using Dish Network's new app can switch channels remotely. But if someone at home is watching one channel, the person using a mobile device has to watch the same channel, unless the DVR is being used as a second tuner. SlingBox can access programs recorded on a DVR, but cannot record programs itself.

With most TV viewing households already signed up for cable, satellite TV or video services from a phone company, companies need to step up their game to bring new customers in. Both Dish Network and DirecTV have included free HD for life to get subscribers.

Dish already has free apps for Apple devices to allow customers to program their digital video recorders, browse TV shows and use their devices as a remote control. Dish plans to update that to allow for live streaming. When the service becomes available, BlackBerry and Android apps will have the feature enabled.

Dish can offer the live TV service easily because it and Sling Media share common roots. EchoStar Communications Corp. bought Sling in 2007 and later split itself into two. Dish kept the satellite TV business, and EchoStar Corp. provides satellite TV services and set-top boxes to cable, satellite TV and phone companies worldwide.


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