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Summary:

Dish Network unveiled its new streaming and DVD service, Blockbuster Movie Pass, Friday. But those who thought it would be positioned as a Netflix killer will be sorely disappointed: Despite earlier speculation, at launch, Movie Pass will be strictly to the satellite operator’s pay TV service.

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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.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Andrew Levine.

  1. It will depend on the content they get. The advantage they have over Netflix is the ability to do a bundled content deal across three distribution channels. That puts them in a much better negotiating position than netflix who it seems will now be negotiating for just the streaming rights.

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  2. Will be interesting to see what Dish has to offer for non Pay TV subscribers.. Anyways their timing is great

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  3. The tie to a Dish subscription really is surprising to me. I can only assume they will eventually open it up to non-subs, but then if that were the case, make that part f the announcement (effectively making the 10/1 launch a beta closed to a controllable crowd – existing subscribers). They also have two other major challenges, one of which Netflix already has covered – the first is content, which both Netflix & Blockbuster will have to step up on to prove value, but Blockbuster now also has to get more viewing options available. They are launching with access on web and their STBs only. At minimum, iOS support needs to be hurried along, but i’d like to also see Android, Roku, and GTV options (assuming the web version doesn’t just work on GTV).

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    1. Andy, the official line on a standalone, non-bundled service is ‘Stay Tuned.’ But even if they do make this a standalone competitor to Netflix, there’s the question of pricing it. It’ll have to be more expensive than the $10 price bundled with Dish service, otherwise there’s no incentive for users to sign up for satellite service, or to buy into the upsell. Blockbuster says it believes there’s a $20 value in the service by itself, but pricing above Netflix + Qwikster is a non-starter. Pricing at $15 seems most likely, but then it’s (more or less) in line with Netflix price that everyone’s complaining about… And then, it’s basically the same service as Qwikster, but with fewer streaming titles on the Netflix side. I just don’t see how that makes this a serious Netflix competitor.

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  4. This is a great concept, but I am not willing to subscribe to Dish. Blockbuster needs to drive its reach to acquire more customers.

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    1. Its going to be hard to do that since Dish owns Blockbuster now.

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    2. Exactly. I don’t think you’re alone in that.

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      1. What’s wrong with Dish? We have been Dish customers for several years now and we are very pleased with the product we receive. It’s much cheaper than cable where we live and offers more. The customer service is great! We are going to cancel our Netflix service and probably just use Blockbuster streaming and On Demand for our movie needs.

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  5. What’s wrong with Dish? We have been Dish subscribers for several years and are very pleased with the product and services we receive. The cable in our area is much more expensive and doesn’t offer as much as Dish. We subscribed to Netflix before they raised their prices. Now we are going to cancel Netflix and just stream blockbuster and On Demand movies. I don’t think we’ll miss the DVD’s.

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  6. The streaming sucks and blockbuster and dish do not have their plan together and it confuses customers..They offer if for free for a month but then Dish charges you!

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  7. I tried the new Dish plan and it is simply stupid. The DVD’s came in the mail just fine. But to try to find an on line offering I was presented a menu on the Dish system that required me to search item by item. I was not able to enter a title. To add insult to injury, the list held on 4 entries, and then had to refresh. With 5000+ possible choices I would be waiting DAYS to pick a film. When i cancelled I was told “… well it’s still in Beta,sir”. No fooling? Really. Whack!I was paying full price,not a discounted test rate. I have this silly expectation that it will work

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