Roku and Dish partner on new foreign TV streaming service

Dish Network (s DISH) has partnered with Roku to launch a new, streaming-only service that will be sold to customers across the U.S., regardless of whether they’re subscribers of Dish’s pay TV offering or not, both companies announced Wednesday morning.

DISHWorld, as the service is called, will offer a number of international packages that bundle Brazilian, Arabic, Hindi and other foreign language content. Bundles go for as little as $5 a month, and all the way up to $44.99, but customers have to mix and match bundles to spend at least $19.99 per month.

Some of the bundles simply offer foreign news stations, while others include movie channels and music TV. Among the networks included in the various bundles are Sony Entertainment Television India, Al Jazeera, Willow Cricket and BBC Arabic. Viewers have access to live TV and can catch up on any of the shows that aired within the last 48 hours on any of the networks they subscribe to.

A press release also hinted at additional offerings targeting other expats in the future, and it suggested that Roku decided against becoming its own operator, partnering with Dish instead:

“Additionally, Roku selected Dish to manage the launch and expansion of future foreign language channels and content on the Roku platform.”

The partnership is a big deal for Roku; the set-top-box has been offering subscription access to a number of foreign channels and packages for some time. But in most cases, these are sold separately by smaller companies, some of which reside outside of the U.S.. Having Dish as a trusted brand to manage and promote these kinds of subscriptions could give Roku a big boost.

But it’s also a remarkable deal for the pay TV world in general. Over the last few months, there have been many rumors that one of the big pay TV providers would eventually decide to go online and target Internet users located outside of its local market with streaming-only packages — an idea that folks in the industry have been dubbing a virtual cable company. Today, this kind of virtual pay TV future became reality — for folks speaking Hindi, Arabic or any other of the targeted languages, anyway.