A mere three years after Dish rescued Blockbuster from bankruptcy, totally dismantled its stores, and began rehabbing the once-mighty home video titan as a streaming “Netflix-killer,” the satellite provider has figured out a better business strategy: submitting to the inevitable. Variety reports that Dish has cut a deal that will make it the first major pay-TV provider in the U.S. to integrate Netflix directly into its set-top boxes, giving its customers direct access to the biggest of the streaming services that are increasingly making those set-top boxes obsolete.
Several smaller providers scattered around the nation have already caved to Netflix’s unstoppable force, striking similar deals to host a dedicated Netflix “channel,” though the larger companies such as Comcast and Time Warner have remained resistant (and combative). Dish’s capitulation is significant, with 14 million subscribers soon having the ability to watch Netflix directly from their Hopper DVRs using their remote controls—and if Dish’s other big plans pan out, through an “over-the-top” TV service streamed via the Internet, for a much lower fee than a traditional cable package, to any connected device. Dish also eventually hopes to add Netflix titles to its search results, totally erasing the lines between Netflix’s offerings and Dish’s. (Except the part where you still need a separate subscription to both, of course.)
It remains to be seen what this means for Dish’s Blockbuster @Home service, which is still being sold as its “answer to Netflix.” That answer now seems to be “We give up.”