Playing poker with DISH Network


Dish NetworkA novel explanation has been put forth as to why satellite MVPD DISH Network is such a difficult company to negotiate with, and it involves the former profession of its founder, Charlie Ergen.

It seems that Mr. Ergen has an unusual item on his resume – professional card player. According to Forbes, he actually supported himself playing poker, and used the game to help pay his way through school.

He once told an audience at a meeting in Colorado that he was actually better at Blackjack, noting that the game had science to it and as a result, a right and a wrong answer, according to an article in Techknowbite.

Poker, on the other hand, is more about reading people – read them correctly and one does not need the best hand to be the winner.

The Wrap published an article tracing the company’s combative nature to the poker-playing mentality, and said it shows not only in its dealings with broadcasters and independent cable programmers like AMC, but in its dealings with government agencies (it is currently in hot water with the FTC over telemarketing practices) and with the entire broadcast community due to its ad-skipping device AutoHop.

An anonymous negotiator said that Ergen’s card-playing roots are definitely in evidence during business dealings – the commenter noted the attempt by a great poker player to bully the other players at the table, to push around weaker players and to bluff big. The commenter also thought DISH may pay a price for the tactic, since at the end of the day it has to partner with these companies.

According to NAB, DISH is among a handful of MVPDs that are involved in the vast majority of negotiations that lead to blackouts, along with DirecTV and Time Warner Cable. According to The Wrap, DISH has been involved in 22 of 42 blackouts dating back to March 2010.