Dish subscribers will soon be able to watch live satellite TV on their mobile devices at no extra cost.
Dish Network is planning to offer the feature on the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and BlackBerry devices in September and on phones using Google's Android system in October.
Subscribers will need special hardware. One option is Sling Media's SlingBox, which retails for $180 to $300. Dish subscribers can also pay $200 to $400 to upgrade to Dish's high-definition digital video recorder with SlingBox features; they'll need to pay $10 a month for multiple DVR service, but they'll get recording capabilities with it. Sling is owned by EchoStar, whose chairman is Dish CEO Charles Ergen.
Viewers using Dish's new app can switch channels remotely. But if someone at home is watching one channel, the person using a mobile device elsewhere has to watch the same thing, unless the DVR being used has a second tuner. SlingBox also can access programs recorded on your DVR, but the box itself can't record.
The offering from Dish is the latest in the race for video supremacy among subscription TV providers.
With most TV viewing households already signed up for a cable, satellite TV or video service from a phone company, companies have to step up promotions to lure subscribers. These include free HD for life from Dish and DirecTV., and a two-year rate guarantee from Comcast on its HD TV, Internet and phone plan.
Dish already makes free apps for Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch to let customers program their digital video recorders, browse TV shows and use their devices as a remote control. Dish will update that to allow for live streaming. The BlackBerry and Android apps will already have the feature enabled when they become available.
Dish can offer the live TV feature easily because it and Sling Media share common roots besides a top executive. EchoStar Communications Corp. bought Sling in 2007 and later split itself into two. Dish kept the satellite TV business, and EchoStar provides satellite TV services and set-top boxes to cable, satellite TV and phone companies worldwide.