Dish Network unveiled its new streaming and DVD service, Blockbuster Movie Pass, at a press conference in San Francisco Friday morning. But those who thought the new offering would be positioned as a Netflix killer will be sorely disappointed. Despite speculation that Dish would release it as a standalone service, at launch Movie Pass will be strictly tied to the satellite operator’s pay TV service.
Movie Pass is being launched through the Blockbuster unit that the satellite TV operator acquired in a bankruptcy auction earlier this year. It will give its subscribers access to more than 100,000 DVD titles and 4,000 streaming titles at a cost of $10 a month. But there’s a catch: At least at launch, you’ll have to be a satellite subscriber to sign up.
The idea behind the service is really to integrate the DVD-by-mail and streaming services from Blockbuster in with Dish’s more traditional pay TV services. Dish subscribers with IP-connected set-top boxes will be able to stream movies and TV shows from the Blockbuster MoviePass service along with their on-demand offerings. They’ll also be able to manage their Blockbuster DVD queue from DishOnline.com.
The announcement comes as Dish seeks to ramp up its competition with Netflix, which has struggled with a string of bad news of late. That began a few months ago, when Netflix announced a price increase for users of its unlimited streaming and DVD-by-mail service. That increase led to a huge uptick in consumer dissatisfaction, which wasn’t helped when Netflix decided to split the services completely and re-brand its DVD-by-mail service Qwikster earlier this week.