Dish has officially completed the acquisition of the merged T-Mobile's mandated divestiture of its various prepaid carriers — now all under the Boost Mobile umbrella — valued at $1.4 billion. With new ownership comes immediate changes such as a modified logo and new rate plans effective tomorrow.
The main argument against T-Mobile and Sprint's proposed merger has been the possibility of reduced competition; after all, Canada only has three major carriers, and that hasn't worked out great for the country. The U.S. Justice Department will reportedly only approve the merger if the combined company will sell off enough wireless spectrum for a new independent carrier to function, and the latest company to show interest is Dish Network.
Sling TV offers a compelling value for cord cutters who want to stream cable television channels without paying the hefty prices. One of its weaknesses was its all-live setup, which it addressed with the Cloud DVR "First Look" program. Initially limited to Fire devices, the company has now expanded access to the service to Android and Roku players.
Boxes that go under your TV and offer access to Netflix or other streaming services or over-the-air TV channels are all the rage at the moment, with things like Roku and NVIDIA Shield selling well. A new competitor has entered the area, as AirTV lays its claim to be under your television.
AirTV is a subsidiary of Dish, so that would explain why its pushing both OTA channels and Sling TV a great deal. The box, the AirTV Player, is powered by Android TV, and plays its content at 4K resolution. The OTA channels require an AirTV adapter and OTA antenna, which are both sold separately.
Now the company is diversifying its portfolio, so to speak. The number of channels available in the US is jumping to nearly 200, spread across 18 languages. They're available as part of Sling International.
Okay, Sling International is really just a new name for DishWorld, the IPTV service Dish Network (which owns Sling TV) started offering in 2012. This laid the foundation for Sling TV in the first place, and now Dish is just getting its branding in order.
DISH Network has updated their official app with a variety of improvements and new features, making it better both as a streaming video player and as an account management console. Probably the best addition in this update is the ability to support multiple profiles for a single subscriber account, a la Netflix. Each profile will have its own favorites list and recommendations, making family sharing a lot smoother.
Also on the streaming side of things, DISH has tried to make following the NCAA men's basketball tournament simpler. While it already has its own sports section to help you separate that content from general TV, this update brings with it the ability to look through the tourney bracket to check on scores.
I don't think anyone has ever accused cable companies of having the best aesthetic sensibilities, but DISH Network's former Android streaming app was a particularly good example of how not to do it. It was a lazy port of the iPhone version, and it showed, covering the basic streaming and scheduling with the bare minimum of effort. The new version... well, I'd be lying if I said it was great, but at least it gets a facelift and a proper tablet interface.
Old on top, new down below.
Other additional features in the updated app include various new content discovery tools like a Netflix-style recommendation engine, a list of the most popular shows (for better or worse), and a personal watch list.
Oh, what a tangled web gigantic mega-corps weave. Japanese telecom SoftBank wants to get its hands on an American wireless carrier, come Hell or high water, and they've just outbid Dish Network to do so. According to Reuters, Softbank has upped its bid from October of last year to $21.6 billion USD for 78% control of Sprint, topping its previous commitment of $20 billion for 70%. Dish Network is currently offering $25.5 billion in a mix of cash and stock for an outright sale, about 10% less on a share-by-share basis.
Dish has been playing hardball since its initial cash and stock bid in April, claiming that it intends to leverage ownership of Sprint to further expand video and Internet capabilities for both companies.
DISH Network may be hard at work trying to woo Sprint away from the clutches of SoftBank, but in the meantime, they've got a few million TV customers to satisfy. The DISH Anywhere app left a lot to be desired when it debuted, but version 2 adds much-needed features like access to the company's growing library of on-demand content. Of course, most of the on-demand content comes from HBO, Cinemax and the like, and if you're paying for them, you've already got access to the (usually better) dedicated streaming apps.
Other improvements for version 2 include a revamped user interface for tablets, with both a program guide and remote that make better use of the larger screen area.