Dish’s Charlie Ergen: Netflix Is Going To Change The Paradigm For How People Watch TV

Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen had a few kind words for Netflix at the D: Dive Into Media conference today, saying that the streaming video provider would most likely be successful. More than that, though, he said that the company was already changing the way people are watching TV.

When asked what happened with Dish’s purchase of Blockbuster and the company’s plans to roll out its own Netflix competitor, Ergen said, “We were too late for the Netflix side of the business.” Part of the reason for that is that Netflix already reached critical mass and can now afford to license whatever content they want.

For that reason, Ergen said he thought Netflix would continue to be successful despite rising costs of content licenses. “They got to 30, 35, 40 million subscribers, and people have to sell to them,” Ergen said. On the flip side, he said Dish “didn’t have the guts” to go after the content licenses it needed to launch a successful streaming service.

But according to Ergen, Netflix’s impact is not just in providing a sustainable model for streaming TV. It’s also fundamentally changing user behavior. “I think they’re going to change the paradigm and change the way people watch TV,” Ergen said. For one thing, they show movies without commercials — and they’re not getting sued the way Dish is.

Ergen called Netflix’s venture into original programming with House of Cards “brilliant” and said he wished he had thought of it. But since he hadn’t, Dish will pursue other businesses. Like, uh, wireless, for instance.