Dish reportedly in online talks with Viacom, Univision, Scripps

Such talk has yet to become reality, but if Dish manages to craft a new online TV service with a handful of players, it would be a small step in that direction, and potentially would move the cable TV industry a little closer to an a la carte model.

Dish Network reportedly is talking to content parties such as Viacom, Univision Communications and Scripps Networks Interactive as it weighs a plan to offer an Internet TV service, according to a BusinessWeek story.

The report, based on unnamed sources, comes as Dish also is preparing to expand its dishNET broadband Internet service nationwide starting next week. The report suggests such a service could represent the next step in breaking the mold of traditional pay TV service packages, as well as the cable TV approach to TV Everywhere of having online content offers directly mirror pay TV subscriptions.

Dish reportedly would seek to launch a live online offering that would include sports programming, one of the most significant broadcast expenses to pay TV service providers.

Cable TV companies have been hesitant to try anything so experimental that would redraw their traditional business model, which is one reason some people think that TV Everywhere strategies have fallen flat. But, as the No. 2 satellite provider in a two-horse race, Dish does not have much to lose by going against the grain, and it would be interesting to see how much a live online TV service with a smaller bundle of content would undercut other offers on price.

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