Offering a peak inside the complex bargaining for what is pay-TV's most closely watched ongoing carriage negotiation, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) Chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen said "we'd scratch our head" it Viacom didn't want to be part of an OTT service like Dish's Sling TV.
"I understood it three years ago, where people may have been skeptical looking at the business," Ergen said, according to a transcript of Thursday's Dish earning call provided by Seeking Alpha.
Ergen was responding to a question posed by Deutsche Bank analyst Bryan Kraft: Are Sling TV rights pivotal to the ongoing talks with Viacom?
Ergen didn't explicitly say that his "head scratching" is caused when a programmer doesn't specifically want to play ball with Sling. He did say, however, that deals with other streaming services cause their own kind of consternation.
"It gets a little tricky because some content providers sell some of their programming to one of the OTT providers like Hulu or Amazon or Netflix and then we want to pay for it again, right?" Ergen said. "If you're watching that particular show, consumer shouldn't pay twice for it. And so some of the programming is chopped up a lot and makes it really difficult."
The Dish chief called it a "positive" that his service that Viacom recently reached an agreement on a temporary extension. However, investors hoping for a surprisingly smooth resolution to a predicted impasse didn't come away from Thursday's call feeling reassured.
"People have to be realistic that the viewership of their channel relates to the value of the channel and the availability of their content at other places to our consumers, they shouldn't be forced to pay for it twice," Ergen added. "And by the way, we will other ways – we will make money as well to monetize your product. So, when you add all those things together, you put creative people in a room, you probably figured out."
- read this Seeking Alpha transcript
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Sling TV offering ABC in select markets, reportedly has around 600,000 subscribers