Ergen: Sony's upcoming OTT service is the real disrupter, not Sling TV

Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) Chairman and incoming CEO Charlie Ergen dismissed characterizations of his company's new OTT service as being disruptive to pay-TV.

Charlie Ergen, Dish Network


Speaking to investors Monday during his company's full-2014/Q4 earnings call, he said the over-the-top programming service currently being prepped by Sony will have far more impact on bundled programming businesses.

"When Sony launches their product, that will really be a replacement [for pay-TV]," Ergen said. "Because Sony isn't an incumbent of the current environment, I think that will really impact the MVPD market. They're more apt to be disruptive. We're just interested in incremental business."

Of course, with Dish stressing that its Sling TV service isn't pay-TV to its millennial-aged target market--and offering a package that includes ESPN, TNT and AMC for $20 a month--parsing out which service is more disruptive is challenging. 

Ergen on Monday reiterated his belief that Sling TV fits Dish's long-term strategy for entering the wireless business.

"Sling is part of a strategy to distribute video on a more mobile basis, on a wireless basis," he said, "because that's the way the next generation is going to watch television."

He said he and Sling CEO Roger Lynch began having conversations five years ago with content providers about such a service. None were interested, until Disney made its landmark deal with Dish a year ago.

"Disney was concerned about the same things we were," said Lynch, speaking alongside Ergen Monday. "Today, there are more programmers concerned about not being on the platform than there are those who are worried about participating."

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