Dish’s upcoming internet TV service gets A+E content, but questions remain

Dish’s (S DISH) plans to launch an internet TV service later this year are starting to take shape: The satellite TV provider just secured rights to stream content from A+E Networks as part of a general contract renewal with the cable network. However, at this point, it’s still unclear what these rights actually encompass, and what that Dish service is eventually going to look like.
Dish announced a multi-year renewal agreement with A+E Tuesday. This means that existing Dish customers will continue to be able to watch channels like Lifetime, History, Crime + Investigation and Military History. Altogether, the bundle consists of eight channels.
Which of these networks will show up on Dish’s internet service? That’s a little less clear at this point. A joint press release from the two companies simply stated that the deal gives Dish “access to A+E Networks’ content through a future multi-stream subscription service of linear and Video-on-Demand content.” It continued:

“With this capability, the content will be available to an untapped segment of customers that is seeking a flexible, content-driven, Internet-accessible service.”

There’s been a lot of speculation about whether internet TV services from Dish and others will be able to actually offer customers anything that’s different from traditional pay TV, or whether customers will simply get the same big bundles, except streamed over the internet.
Then again, a huge bundle that’s just cable TV with a different pipe wouldn’t exactly be flexible and content-driven, would it? And if Dish was simply to sign on one cable network after another with all of their existing bundles, would it really be able to win over the cord cutters and “cord haters” that it is targeting with the service? Or would it be able to meet the $30 monthly price it is reportedly targeting?
At this point, the A+E deal does show some momentum on Dish’s side. Dish announced a similar deal with Disney earlier this year, and Sony and others trying to launch their own online TV services still haven’t been able to tell us about any content agreements. But there are also still lots of open questions.
Maybe Dish’s Charlie Ergen will use Wednesday’s earnings call to answer some of them.
Dish photo courtesy of (CC BY 2.0) Flickr user Dave Lindblom.