Dish Network's big Blockbuster Movie Pass deal is a dud

editor's corner

Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) last week launched what it hopes will be a viable alternative to Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), resurrecting Blockbuster in the media delivery space.

The satellite TV operator says it will offer TV episodes, movies and video games to current subscribers for $10 a month. Dubbed Movie Pass, the service is set to roll out Saturday.

Dish initially will offer about 4,000 movies and "hundreds" of on-demand TV shows for delivery to a computer and 3,000 available to TV screens. Subscribers also will have access to older titles from some Dish movie channels (think EPIX, MGM and the Sony Movie Channel). Customers can also get DVD and games by mail, and unlimited DVDs and games from brick and mortar Blockbuster stores. Dish offered no timeline for extending the offer to non-customers.

The streaming choices make up a pretty thin effort compared to Netflix or even Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), and Movie Pass currently isn't available on mobile devices, something Dish said will be addressed by year's end.

Blockbuster and Dish made a special point of highlighting the fact that customers would only have to deal with a singe bill, a sticking point for many Netflix customers who raised a ruckus when the streaming service split its DVD by mail and streaming services into two businesses earlier this month.

"Unlike other companies, we offer the simplicity of one company, one bill and one connection," Dish CEO Joe Clayton said.

Dish said it would offer multiple levels of the service; in addition to the one-disc-a-month deal for $10, customers can opt for two or three discs for $15 or $20 a month respectively.

Dish customers also are being offered a free year of the Movie Pass if they subscribe to the satellite provider's America's Top 200 programming package for $39.99 a month.

As a whole, the offering doesn't really till any new ground. For Dish subscribers, Movie Pass isn't a bad value-added deal for $10, but it's certainly not the "Stream Come True" the company advertised.

The strength of Dish's Blockbuster offering, currently, is the DVD by mail service, something Netflix is scrambling to distance itself from, and the Blockbuster name that Dish acquired for $320 million in a bankruptcy auction itself is of questionable value.

Does Dish have bigger plans that it's just not ready to talk about? If it really wants to be a player in the streaming space it had better, because, as the saying goes, this dog just don't hunt. --Jim