Virtual MVPD race heats up as Dish Network, TWC dive into OTT streaming

Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) is diving into deeper OTT waters, announcing it will make its linear TV available over-the-top to subscribers by the end of June. The satellite provider hopes to be the first to sell a full package of live-streaming channels and is negotiating rights with several broadcasters and distributors.

Meantime, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) dipped its toe into the virtual MVPD pool, partnering with Fanhattan to offer live TV and video on demand via the vendor's Fan TV box, engadget reports. TWC is selling the box to subscribers at a pre-order price of $99 and plans to start shipping it in the next few months.

The target market for both companies is primarily young adults who are eschewing cable television for online streaming options. "Dish is targeting 18-to-34-year-olds who only want to pay $20 or $30 a month to watch video on smartphones and tablets instead of a traditional TV set," Bloomberg's Alex Sherman and Edmund Lee wrote.

Content rights are a key component of Dish's, and likely TWC's service. Dish has secured a rights deal with the Walt Disney Co.--giving it access to channels like ABC, ESPN and The Disney Channel--but is still negotiating with CBS Corp., A&E Networks and Turner Broadcasting. Several conditions are being set in order for the deals to go through: The streaming package must include at least two of the four major broadcasting networks (ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox), along with at least 10 of the highest-rated cable networks.

Dish is also negotiating with NBCUniversal, a slightly more complicated proposition due to the conditions placed on the peacock network when Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) acquired it in 2011. NBCU must provide programming that is comparatively and economically equivalent to that of its rivals. "The difficulty so far has been concluding what constitutes an equivalent agreement based on Dish's deal with Disney," an unnamed source told Bloomberg.

TWC's Fan TV partnership doesn't have the same reach as Dish's ambitious play. It won't have the same number of channel selections as its cable service does, and channels will vary by region. "New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Kansas City and Austin will include just about all broadcast and cable channels and packages: premium, cable and local broadcasters like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and Univision. All other Time Warner Cable geographies will include premium and cable lineups, but will exclude local broadcast channels," Fan TV's FAQ page said.

Fanhattan, originally known for its online TV discovery app, revealed its Fan TV box in mid-2013 and has been courting pay-TV providers since then. It conducted a three-month trial with Cox Communications in Orange County, Calif., last year. The TWC deal is Fan TV's first national cable partnership, and the startup said it's willing "to work with any TV provider" in a quest to make its service available nationwide.

For more:
- Variety has this story
- engadget has this story
- Bloomberg has this Dish story
- FierceCable has this coverage

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