Dish remaking itself as home entertainment hub

Super Joey plush toy at Dish press conferenceAre you an enthusiast? Since you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you are.

At its annual press conference at the International CES, Dish unveiled its latest, less revolutionary advances in its Hopper and Joey line of receivers. More importantly, it revealed its evolving focus on what it calls “enthusiasts” – tech-savvy customers who will embrace Dish for the ways it improves their viewing experience for a reasonable price. Recent partnerships with Southwest Airlines (free IP-based TV during flights) and Apple (free iPad to new Dish customers) illustrate the kind of people Dish hopes to attract.

Once upon a time, Dish positioned itself as the low-cost alternative, disrupting cable’s effective monopoly on pay-TV delivery. It isn’t as though Dish has renounced those low-end customers, but it’s clear that enthusiasts have more money and are more willing to spend it on whatever works for them. As a Dish shareholder, I’m happy to see Dish’s increasing emphasis on these upscale customers.

Dish CEO Joe Clayton said, “The American (video) consumer only cares about three things – Affordable, Available Anywhere, and Ease of Use.” Dish’s new receiver products, including the SuperJoey, Wireless Joey, and Virtual Joey for PS3, PS4, and LG Smart TV, are all aimed at improving ease of use for households with lots of TVs and TV viewers.

CES is chock full of incremental advances and only a few revolutionary leaps. Last year’s Hopper with Sling was one of those leaps; allowing subscribers to download recorded shows for offline viewing on an iPad is a compelling feature. This year, SuperJoey is merely incremental in comparison, a way to add two satellite tuners for households that want to watch four pay-TV shows at once.

For more on the details, check out coverage by Digital Trends or Variety or Streaming Media or even Dish itself. I’m heading back to the CES show floor to look for another revolutionary leap.