Dish Network this week announced its new smart home services brand, OnTech Smart Services. As more and more people invite smart gadgets into the home, this type of move from a satellite TV provider isn’t all that surprising.
Companies like Dish Network have evolved and adjusted to changing user demands and tech advancements for years. Nearly 50 million people are expected to “cut the cord” by 2021 in favor of a-la-carte, internet-based television and slimmer monthly bills. As people have moved away from traditional cable packages, Dish has tried to capitalize on the cord-cutting movement since at least 2015 with Sling TV and its “skinny bundle,” which allows consumers to pick and choose the live TV channels they want to pay for.
Dish finds a new niche
Now, Dish is capitalizing on a different growing market. Considering its history, Dish’s broadened foray into the smart home industry with OnTech was to be expected. In fact, it’s been in the smart home services space for years with its customer-only service, Dish Smart Home Services. You might also recognize the company’s work with Google and Amazon in the streaming sphere.
OnTech will initially roll out in 11 cities around the country, claiming to bring around same- or next-day installation help with products from Google Nest, Ring, Linksys, Wemo, Roku, Yale, Polk Audio, and Klipsch Audio, and more, to any interested user — not just existing Dish customers. The service also comes free of contracts and subscription fees.
Not only does the service claim to provide installation help for around $99, Dish also says users can request one-on-one education on how to operate the devices and link them together — similar to Best Buy’s Geek Squad and HelloTech services that let users pick and choose products of interest and seek consultation on how to make sure they work together. Like these competitors, OnTech services can also help you with other, peripheral aspects of the smart home — like mounting a TV, setting up your WiFi router, or relocating power for you.
In solving smart tech’s problems, collaboration might be the key
From finding the cheapest way to watch all your favorite TV shows to building a fully-functional smart home that doesn’t require more maintenance than its worth, the options and ability to customize are there, but what’s often trickier to navigate today is figuring out how to build, piece it all together, and keep it working.
Dish’s smart home expansion shows that one way to get there — right now, at least — is through collaboration.
“Our focus is on the direct-to-consumer business — we think there’s a really good space there; we think that we solve a need,” said Jeremy McCarty, vice president and general manager of OnTech. “And we will also partner with other companies that are looking to solve these problems for their customers as well.”
According to Cory Sorice, vice president and general manager of new business initiatives for the Chamberlain Group (CGI), there are many ways companies can come together to deliver easier routes to smarter homes. Sorice, who along with Chamberlain Group is part of the team behind connected-products platform myQ, as well as CGI and LiftMaster partnerships with Google Nest, Samsung, and Amazon, says there are many ways companies can come together to deliver easier routes to smarter homes. However, he says there’s strategy and time involved before allowing everything to work with everything.
“The connected home is challenging because it’s not all made by one manufacturer, so the integration of these technologies as building blocks is taking time,” Sorice said.
Needless to say, the opportunities to help educate consumers on how to maintain, use, and navigate the entertainment and smart home industries are quite ripe.
Especially for a company like Dish.
“As WiFi connectivity has become a utility in the home like water and electricity, there’s huge value in owning and servicing the home network,” said Nicole Hayward, cofounder of Minim, an IoT (internet of things) company that focuses on connected homes, in an email to Reviews.com.
“Customers will turn to Dish for help and new product recommendations, which will help Dish satisfy and retain customers. Additionally, Dish will acquire valuable consumer intel (what’s deployed in home networks) that they can use to plan compelling new offerings for increased revenue streams.”
Hayward said it’s possible Dish’s smart home expansion will “heat up” the competition for delivering these types of services if successful in these markets. It’s too early to tell whether Dish Network will change the way smart home services are rendered, but it’s increasingly clear how there is plenty of potential to help bring smart home technology to those who aren’t at the level of doing it on their own.
Image: An Amazon Echo Spot Bluetooth smart speaker, taken on Aug. 1, 2018. (Photo by Neil Godwin/T3 Magazine via Getty Images)