Earlier today, Dish Network CEO Joe Clayton made official what most observers already knew to be true: that the company would be launching a movie streaming service built on the remnants of Blockbuster, which Dish acquired in April.
What was less clear before today's press conference was exactly what the details would be. Those are now revealed, and as it turns out, what Dish and Blockbuster have planned is hardly the "Netflix killer" many predicted.
It's For Satellite TV Subscribers, Not Cord Cutters
The offering Dish unveiled today is not a stand-alone video streaming and DVD rent-by-mail service like Netflix, but rather it's a $10 add-on for Dish subscribers. This might be a really nice added value for existing subscribers, but it doesn't look as attractive to other consumers.
What turns a lot of people off from cable and satellite TV subscriptions is their price and the fact that providers bundle together a ton of content that they're not necessarily interested in. A growing number of people instead look toward Web-based, on-demand video content from the likes of Hulu, Netflix and others. This is especially true of younger consumers, who are moving fewer TV sets into their dorm rooms this Fall and instead packing merely their laptops.
Blockbuster Movie Pass may have its perks for Dish's 14 million pay TV subscribers, but for everybody else, it simply chains them to the old model of paying for and consuming content.
Even With Their Price Hike, Netflix is Still Cheaper
In this morning's presentation, Dish touted the price point of Blockbuster Movie Pass as one of its advantages over "the competition," an obvious reference to Netflix, whose pricing model they cited specifically. While it's true that $10 is less expensive than the $16 that Netflix customers must now begrudgingly pay for the DVD-and-streaming combo, Blockbuster Movie Pass ends up being more expensive in the end becaue it's tethered to Dish.
Blockbuster Movie Pass doesn't launch until October 1, and the prices listed on the Dish website now say that plans "start at" $19.99, a price that only appears to only be in effect for 12 months (and requires a two year contract). If the new service is an extra $10, then consumers will be paying a minimum of $30 per month.
Granted, this package gets you more than what Netflix offers, including all that satellite TV content and a DVR functionality, so the price comparison isn't apples-to-apples.
You Think Netflix's Streaming Selection Stinks? This is Worse.
People have long complained that the content available to stream on-demand from Netflix is limited. That's improved over time, but may take a major hit if the company can't manage to salvage its deal with Starz Entertainment.
Even so, the site has 20,000 titles available to stream instantly, whereas Blockbuster Movie Pass will start with only 4,000 that are available to stream to desktops. Interestingly, only 3,000 will be able to be streamed directly to TV sets.
Blockbuster Movie Pass may prove to be an attractive option for those already interested in traditional pay TV subscriptions, but for people looking for an alternative to Netflix, this probably isn't the way to go.
Blockbuster photo by yapsnaps.