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Clayton Explains Joining Dish, Outlines Plans

10/17/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

STRESA, ITALY — Joe Clayton, president/
CEO of Dish Network, outlined
plans for his company during a one-onone
interview with Gary Shapiro, president/
CEO of the Consumer Electronics
Association (CEA), at its annual CEO
Summit, here, earlier this month.

Clayton, the legendary RCA sales and
marketing executive, former chairman of
Sirius, former chairman of CEA and a CE
Hall of Famer, shared with attendees his
decision to join Dish Network full time
last May and replace founder Charlie Ergen.
He has continued as chairman.

Clayton explained he had been on the
board of Dish’s parent company Echo-
Star for two years and knew Ergen for
20 years. Clayton had been approached
by Ergen a couple of times to be a fulltime
executive with Dish, but he finally
relented when Ergen had his wife Candy
approach him at a board meeting earlier
this year and said, “We need your help.”

Shapiro reminded the audience that
Clayton was always a technology innovator,
actively advocating in the early
days that digital TV had to be FullHD
and that when Clayton helped put DirecTV,
his key competitor, on the map in
the mid-1990s, “We signed a 1 million
units or one-year exclusive [for the RCA
brand under Thomson], and we sold the
1 million in 10 months at $800 each.
And Charlie Ergen was a DirecTV distributor
at the time.”

Clayton explained he took the job
right after Ergen improved EchoStar’s
capabilities by buying the Hughes Network,
gained spectrum and brought
Blockbuster. When Ergen made the
Blockbuster deal, Clayton said, “I didn’t
think that would work” as part of the
Dish Network business, “but we have
always been a technology innovator,
first with the DVR. We bought Slingbox,
and we didn’t have as many places as
we wanted to demonstrate our technologies,”
so Blockbuster fit the bill.

He explained, “We don’t have as
many retail floors to demonstrate our
technology as in the past. Now we have
1,500 of them” in cities. Dish is using
those stores to go after the Latino market,
using the stores for consumers to
pay bills, and may have additional partners
to get into the wireless business.

Clayton said his role at Dish is to
“change the wireless business. I flunked
retirement [he retired after being chairman
of SiriusXM], but I have changed
businesses [and introduced technologies]
over the years like VCR, satellite TV and radio, and HDTV.”

When asked what his goals for Dish
Network over the next five years are,
Clayton said, “I hope we are a growing
[multibillion dollar] company. With
the pay-TV market saturated, I want to
develop the Latino market, convert the
commercial market from analog to digital, broaden Blockbuster with partners,
and with what I call the ‘Ergen Wireless
Company’ become a top three or four
player in broadband and wireless ... behind
AT&T and Verizon.”

Shapiro asked Clayton how the pending
AT&T merger — whether it is successful
or not — affects Dish’s wireless
and broadband, and the Dish CEO
quipped, “Part of our wireless play will
be to have a telco partner — Spring,
Lightspeed, Metro PCS, Leap, Quest
… I hope I’m not forgetting anyone and
mentioned all of them. We need a telecommunications
partner.”

Clayton mentioned Dish’s Blockbuster
Movie Pass, which began Oct. 1, is available
to Dish Network customers starting
at $10 per month, combining the best of
TV with the best of movies and games. It
features what Dish described as a “a pay-
TV industry first: a subscription streaming
movie service bundle available on the
TV or PC.” Dish claimed the package “is
unmatched by any other cable, satellite,
telco or online streaming movie service.”

Clayton noted, “Blockbuster will offer
streaming real soon … and add more
service providers. The whole world is
changing, and it is coming out of the
Cloud.”

Clayton said Dish can provide movie,
TV and subscription movie services via
satellite, streaming or via the Cloud. “We
can do all of the above — one company,
one bill, one connection.”

When Shapiro asked about the future
of subscription services and the theories
about “cord-shaving” — cutting back on
satellite or cable TV services by consumers
or “cord-nevers,” who are young
people who just watch TV via the web —
Clayton said, “The subscription [model]
won’t go away, it will be modified. We
hope to be focused on what consumers
want and not an ‘all you can eat’ [subscription]
approach.”

Clayton concluded with a mantra
that has been his sales and marketing
view since his days at RCA: “We have
to provide ease of use, choice, variety
and value.”