“So the way I look at it is, we believe that the wireless business is a place where, if we’re in the video business, we need to be more than fixed, we need to be a mobile video as well,” Ergen said.
Though it also remains possible that Dish Network might look at other wireless services as well, some of that thinking might hinge, in part, on what happens with the AT&T bid to buy T-Mobile USA.
If approved, it is expected there will be required divestitures, and that could be something Dish Network might be able to take advantage of. If the merger is not approved, there are other possible opportunities that could arise. Some of those possibilities could include the ability for Dish Network to rather quickly acquire market share in the mobile broadband and voice business, for example.
Though that might not have seemed so logical in the past, much is changing in the consumer services business. Cable TV operators, for example, increasingly are talking about broadband access as the core service, with a corresponding lessening of emphasis on video services.
Ergen still believes there is an opportunity for stand-alone video services, as cable operators increasingly seem to be embracing the value of a “lead with broadband access” strategy.
Having said that, Ergen said the other macro trend is that people continue to use more data. And the key point is that such data could be video, could be voice, could be lots of other things.
“So I think that strategically, we believe we have to be in something other than a standalone video business as a company, and we are in the transition of being able to do that,” said Ergen. “hat’s going to take some time and that is unclear where that is going to be a smart business decision or not.”
That’s a rather more candid assessment than many CEOs might make, but Ergen is a straight shooter. The larger issue is that the traditional telecom and video entertainment businesses are unstable in a new way. Broadband is becoming the lead offer for cable operators as they continue to lose market share to telcos and satellite, while wireless now is the lead offer for telcos.
Even “bundles,” which have driven growth for more than a decade, though still important, are losing some marketing emphasis in favor of concentration on the lead offers. For Dish Network, a new lead offer might emerge in the future.