Dish (S DISH) and Disney (S DIS) confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that they’ve reached a retransmission agreement late Monday, and they did so with a bang: Not only does the agreement force Dish to turn off automated ad skipping for ABC shows, it also gives Dish the rights to include ABC and ESPN programming “as part of an Internet delivered, IP-based multichannel offering,” according to a press release.
In other words: Dish just leapfrogged Verizon, (S VZ) Sony (S SNE) and others and sealed a deal with ABC to launch an internet-based TV service. There have been rumors for a while that Dish was looking to launch such a service, in part because it would help the company to address customers unwilling or unable to access satellite TV.
Dish isn’t entering the race to create internet TV unprepared: The company already operates DishWorld, an internet-based subscription service for foreign-language TV from India, Vietnam, China and other countries that primarily targets expats, and is available through Roku and other devices.
DishWorld has long been Dish’s online TV testbed, and Geoff Campbell, VP of online strategy for DISH Digital, told me last year that Dish was closely observing DishWorld to learn for future ventures. “There will be implications from what we are doing for domestic programs,” he said at the time — and with ABC on board, one should expect that DishWorld is getting even more attention these days.