AMC/DISH Settle – Now What?

00355_00205This past summer saw a clash of lawsuits between multiple satellite and content providers over carriage contracts. For background on the disputes, read my July post here.

On Sunday, Oct. 20th, DISH Network and AMC/Cablevision reached a settlement in their breach of contract lawsuit that will see DISH pay $700 million to AMC and purchase $80 million dollars worth of multichannel video distribution and data services (MVDDS) in 45 US metro markets. The settlement seems significant, except when you consider AMC was suing DISH for $2.5 billion in damages.

DISH’s purchase of MVDDS services was an unexpected part of the deal. This is the first time I am learning about this technology and its services. What seems interesting to me is this technology is said to rival that of satellite television distribution due to its capacity to deliver more than 240 television channels and high-speed Internet service. What is most curious about why this technology isn’t more broadly known is that DISH and AMC, through their subsidiary companies, own 37 of the 46 spectrum licenses auctioned by the FCC in 2004. It certainly isn’t a perfect technology (only offering download features and requiring another path for uploads), but one has to wonder if this technology is the real dispute behind what created and drove this lawsuit. In fact, this is a long dispute with Cablevision suing EchoStar Co. (DISH’s parent corporation) in 2007 for dropping Voom, their early HD-programming channels.

And then there are the weird events last week in the courtroom. Reportedly, DISH programming senior executive Carolyn Crawford stormed out of the courtroom after the judge ordered her to turn over a laptop, which was suspected to contain evidence supporting AMC’s claims. On her way out of the courtroom, she allegedly shoved the 83-year-old father of the Cablevision lead attorney asking if he was “proud of his son?” Further, the judge became enraged when he learned that Crawford had such a critical role in the court case, citing he would have never let “that woman” be in the courtroom as a spectator if he’d knew who she was. Both have since apologized, but the events of the case and the long and intimate history between the two companies is certainly interesting — to say the least.

The point of my original blog still begs the question: With all the pay-to-play services (Netflix, Hulu, UStream, Boxee) on the market, and the younger generations subscribing to the concept of “cord-neverism,” how long will it be before DISH and AMC become obsolete?

And, what is the new TV/content delivery technology you see on the horizon that we should all be paying attention to?