LAS VEGAS — Colorful longtime industry veteran
Joe Clayton is marking his return to International CES
as the CEO of Dish Network by introducing a pair of
marsupial-inspired set-top boxes called the Hopper
and its mini sidekick the Joey.
The new multi-room home-networking tools are
central to the subscriber-challenged satellite TV service’s
new marketing push and promise to, among
other things, allow subscribers to record and cache
all of the prime time programs from local CBS, NBC,
ABC and FOX affiliates each night between 8 and
11 p.m. and hold them for up to eight days. That way,
viewers will rarely miss a favorite major network program
again, Clayton said.
Dish has named the automatic network recording capability Primetime Anytime, and will use it as part of
a massive advertising campaign Clayton has planned
to grab eyeballs away from DirecTV, cable and telco TV
The Hopper, which uses a kangaroo as its trademark,
is a DVR and household server on steroids. It contains
2TB of internal storage capacity, three tuners, the ability
to record up to six programs at a time, and can relay
programs from the Hopper’s hard drive and tuners to
up to three remote rooms in the house.
Viewers, in effect, gain the ability to “hop from room
to room” viewing the same program on different TVs.
“We want people demanding a Hopper,” Clayton
said. “It’s fun, it’s entertainment, it’s emotional and it’s
different from what everybody else has.”
It’s smaller partner, the Joey (as in a baby kangaroo),
is actually a thin-client box that is tethered via a
MoCA coaxial cable system to the Hopper to share
live and recorded TV programs in up to three additional
The system will incorporate a new interactive program
guide that features a more ergonomic look and
feel, and provides access to programs recorded on the
Primetime Anytime service.
In addition to launching the Hopper here, Clayton is
also polishing up the Dish façade by dropping “Network”
from the brand name – it’s just Dish now on the
marketing side – introducing a new logo and amping
up a commercial advertising blitz to appeal to families.
“The new Dish is about fun and family entertainment,”
Clayton said. “It’s not about model numbers or set-top
boxes. Each member of the family can be entertained
together or with different programming playing at the
Clayton will be appealing to potential subscribers
with the pitch: “more music, more magic, more memory,
On the music end, Clayton is leveraging his past role
as CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio to enhance and expand SiriusXM music channels available on the Dish
“We believe music is under served by cable TV and
DirecTV,” Clayton contended. “Today, we offer in our
higher-end packages up to 65 channels of SiriusXM
commercial-free music. We are going to expand that
virtually across our entire platform and move it from
channel 6000, where it is hidden, down to channel 99,
and when you hit 99 and then hit 61, you’ll see SiriusXM
Blue Grass come up and play, along with a picture
of the cover of the album the song comes from.”
Clayton said in addition to existing SiriusXM channels,
Dish plans to add a couple of additional music
services, hinting that “the Latino market is a growth
market in an otherwise saturated pay-TV field, so we
will be adding 15 channels to appeal to that audience.”
Dish will launch the Hopper and Joey with a promotional
campaign, starting with Blockbuster At Home.
The new effort will play off of the previous Blockbuser
Movie Pass campaign offering additional family and
children’s programming in the package.
Subscribers who sign up will receive three months
of free DVD rentals by mail, more than 40 channels
of HD programming, and more than 3,000 children’s
and family titles added to the existing library of streaming
Blockbuster on Demand movies, for a total of more
than 8,000 movies and television programs.
For those without broadband service, Dish will offer
a program called Blockbuster Unplugged, which will
download via satellite more than 500 movies at a rate
of 10 a day.
Dish will also offer a program this spring for existing
Dish subscribers who do not have a DVR-equipped
tuner decoder. This will provide an external hard drive
that will plug into legacy equipment to deliver DVR
functionality to a standalone tuner box.
To engage consumers curious about Dish service,
Clayton’s team has developed a 72-hour sampling service
of the most popular movies and TV shows, called
Dish Test Drive. This will use a downloaded app and
cloud service to provide live broadcast TV channels.
“You sign up online and we will provide Dish service
to your phone, tablet or portable PC to try out,” Clayton
said. “We believe people will get hooked on the
service, plus it is a lead generator for us.”
Dish will play up the various promotions with a new
advertising campaign leveraging national TV spots to
talk about new products and features. The ads will
center on Dish delivering more variety, more innovation
and more value.
Dish plans to tie the spots into its online efforts by
launching a redesigned website, Clayton said.