Monday, January 19, 2009


Dish Network

Satellite TV is a service I love to hate, and Dish Network, being the provider I have dealt with, is the satellite TV service I love to hate the most.

I own my own equipment. I installed my dishes and switches and wired my house. I did this because I don't want to be locked into a long-term contract. Dish Network, to be fair, has been great about letting me change my programming at a moment's notice and, after some bitching, will usually waive the fee for dropping programming - a process which costs them nothing, or next to it. I note that they don't offer to give me $10.00 when I add programming. Currently, the only programming I carry are the "local" channels - braodcast channels I would have ordinarily got over the air for free.

I have yet to be convinced that there is a good reason for Dish Network's programming packages. Their "family" package is a joke. Their basic package doesn't include Fox News. The Top 100 and Top 200 packages include music channels, as well as shopping channels and public service channels I get just by having the satellite. I mean, I get 20-odd channels with no paid programming package at all! Granted, the vast majority of them pretty much suck, but then so do most all of the channels in the other packages.

Channels I'm not interested in:

Music channels. Have these people never heard of the internet? I can program my own radio channels and stream them to my receiver and listen to them in stereo.

Shopping channels. I'm not paying for shopping channels. Especially when I can get them for nothing already.

Music TV. The Flava of Love. Seriously? Music video TV, Fuse, VH1 thru 100. I can live without all of them.

Kid TV. Nick, all the various Disney channels, etc. I'm 50. Do you think I watch The Little Mermaid? If the grandkids are over, I put in the DVD. Or better yet, I actually interact with them.

How about channels for adults? The ESPN channels. Fox News, finance and sports. CNN, HNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Bloomberg, etc. TCM, AMC, IFN, TNT, SciFi, History, etc. You know, actual entertainment. I'd buy a package like that. Better yet, let me pick 30 channels. You can stick me with whatever other crap you want up to 60, and I'll pay $30 bucks a month and be happy. There's a reason I change my programming so often. It's because none of the available packages are compelling enough for me to keep.

My most recent encounter with the folks at Dish Network soured me even more. I inquired after their HD packages which, oddly enough, contained pretty much just the channels I wanted. I was prepared to purchase the necessary equipment, only to be told that the only way I could get the HD channels was to buy some other package that I didn't want. Guess what? I didn't bite. And I won't.

Sometime in the not too distant future, Roku or some other intrepid company is going to stream HD TV over the internet for the right price and with the right packages. Netflix has already replaced HBO, Showtime and Starz! in my home. Amazon Video on Demand will replace Dish Network's PPV movies at less cost and with more variety. Dish Network needs to understand that they must be more responsive to their customers, or they will be left in the dust. The battle is no longer just between cable and satellite; there are more and more options for entertainment out there. I'm buying, but not what Dish Network is selling.


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