ENGLEWOOD, COLO. – Joe Clayton’s return to the
home entertainment industry joining DISH Network as
its president/CEO had to be a surprise to
many last week.
Yet it makes perfect sense. Only someone
with Clayton’s background, selling
RCA TVs, introducing rival DirecTV, and
becoming CEO and later chairman of
Sirius Satellite Radio, could take on some
of the responsibilities of the company’s
founder, Charlie Ergen, who will remain
Clayton, who has already been named
to Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame
back in 2008 when he also became a
board member of sister company Echostar, officially
begins his job on June 20 when he also becomes a
member of the DISH Network board.
But knowing him has many do in the CE business
for years it is not surprising he was already on the job for a couple of days prior to the official start date.
“I’ve been here two or three days going through HR
and looking at houses,” Clayton told TWICE in a telephone
interview last week.
So it wasn’t a shock that Clayton had a
few candid views on his immediate plans
for DISH and opinions on technologies
being rolled out by CE suppliers:
TWICE: Why did you decide to come to
the DISH Network? What is the attraction?
Clayton: Charlie [Ergen] has approached
me several times, but this time
it was different. He’s added DBS spectrum,
we are going to offer broadband
and there is the Blockbuster deal where
we can do physical distribution. I could see [Ergen]
is trying to craft something different here with data
TWICE: What is the biggest challenge DISH and the satellite/cable TV industries in general are facing
given the rollout of Internet TV?
Clayton: Technology always changes the landscape
so that is nothing new. We have to improve our operations
and financials, basic blocking and tackling. But
for the consumer we have to provide better value, enhanced
services… really adding additional services to
the equation. I see these technology changes… as an
TWICE: What are your goals for DISH in the first 60
to 90 days you come on board full time?
Clayton: I want to focus on improving our subscriptions
and cash flow. From my background I want to improve retention
[of subscribers] and get churn down. That is no
different than what DirecTV and Sirius have to do.
TWICE: What’s your view of the other big development
in TV during the past year and half, 3D?
Clayton: I’ve been looking at 3D for 35 years, since
I first saw it at the Sarnoff Center [at RCA]. I’m going to
get in trouble for saying this, but… it’s still not here, not
a mainstream product yet. Not like we have been used
to. But there is an opportunity for 3D because going
forward it has to be better and we are looking at it to be
part of [DISH’s] mix.
TWICE: Of course some of your old friends in the CE
business would like to know if you are going to change
distribution somewhat, so they can begin selling satellite
TV like they did years ago?
Clayton: All I can say is that if you look at my past, I
have been able to commercialize technologies develop
brands and sell products efficiently. But I can tell you
what I won’t do.
TWICE: What’s that?
Clayton: Hire Howard Stern!