×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dish Directs Subscribers to Buy HBO Now for ‘Game of Thrones’ as Dispute Rages On

Even as “Game of Thrones” returns on Sunday night for its final season, the dispute between HBO and Dish keeps dragon on. In order to pacify “Thrones” fans who are also Dish subscribers, the satellite provider has taken the unconventional approach of directing customers to how they can separately sign up for HBO Now.

Dish’s website features a page devoted to explaining the process to signing up for HBO NOW, the premium cabler’s streaming service that Dish explains “is similar to Netflix.”

“Even though HBO is not available on Dish, you can still watch their content with the HBO NOW app,” a tutorial video explains on Dish’s website. “It only takes a few minutes. Click, start your free trial, then just follow the on-screen instructions. Now, you’re ready to start watching HBO shows and movies, including ‘Game of Thrones,’ when you want, where you want.”

It’s an unusual call to action by Dish, which doesn’t get a dime should its customers sign up for HBO that way. But it’s also an attempt to placate customers by pointing out they can stay with Dish, even though it doesn’t currently offer HBO, and yet still watch the channel. Dish blames most of the standoff on AT&T, which owns rival DirecTV and took over HBO when it completed its purchase of Time Warner (now WarnerMedia) last June.

Prior to the standoff, Dish charged monthly subscribers $15 for HBO and $10 for Cinemax. As Dish notes on its site, “HBO typically has offers including a 7-day free trial and a cancel anytime policy; monthly subscription is $14.99 billed through HBO.”

HBO hasn’t been available to Dish or Sling TV (Dish’s over-the-top live TV service) since November, when the two sides couldn’t come to terms on a new carriage deal.

The standoff comes at a tough time for Dish, as traditional cable/satellite providers continue to shed video subscribers. Dish lost 1 million subs in 2018 — including 334,000 in he fourth quarter, which it blamed on the company’s carriage disputes with HBO and Univision.

Dish finally struck a new deal with Univision last month, ending a nine-month blackout. But its standoff with HBO, now in its fifth month, shows no sign of resolve just yet.

The dispute is a familiar one in cable, as carriage fee disputes frequently lead to channel blackouts. But they rarely last as long as this has, and neither side seems to have budged. HBO declined comment, while Dish sent a boilerplate statement: “AT&T removed HBO from DISH and has refused to accept any offer that could realistically be considered fair for DISH customers. DISH customers are not being charged for HBO. Given HBO’s broad availability, DISH is working on a case-by-case basis with our loyal customers regarding their viewing needs.”

CREDIT: MyDish.com

But now Winter Is Coming. Specifically, there’s so much attention and buzz surrounding the final “Game of Thrones” season that even Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said in a February earnings call that “realistically you would expect that when Game of Thrones comes on you may see a pickup in defections from HBO.”

Ergen added that Dish customers may find other ways to watch “Game of Thrones”: “They’ll go to their friend’s house for 10 weeks during ‘Game of Thrones’ or there becomes an increased usage of – every young person knows how to go on the internet and get a code and watch HBO for free.”

The exec even suggested that piracy may increase due to some Dish users not having access to HBO, something “we prefer not to see.”

Despite Dish’s drive to send its “Game of Thrones”-loving customers to HBO NOW, HBO isn’t expecting to see a frenzy of sign-ups. One insider said that’s because they haven’t historically seen a spike in HBO NOW subscribers when “Thrones” returns (perhaps because the show, entering its seventh season, is already well-established).

More TV

  • THE EXORCIST

    'Exorcist' Star Max Von Sydow Doesn't Let Age Define His Roles

    Max von Sydow turned 90 this month, which is a milestone for most people, but age has always seemed incidental to the actor. When he played the elderly, frail Father Merrin in “The Exorcist,” von Sydow was 44 — meaning he was the same age Bradley Cooper is today. In the 1950s, von Sydow had [...]

  • Gentleman Jack Suranne Jones

    TV Review: HBO's 'Gentleman Jack'

    “Nature played a challenging trick on me, didn’t she?” Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) first utters this sentence with an arch amusement, but over the course of Sally Wainwright’s new drama “Gentleman Jack,” she repeats the sentiment with pride, exhaustion and defiance. Living in 1832 Halifax as a lesbian with a penchant for sweeping black suits [...]

  • Inside the Music of Netflix's 'Ingress:

    Inside the Music of Netflix's 'Ingress: The Animation' (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Ingress: The Animation” hit last fall in Japan, but the global release doesn’t hit Netflix until April 30, fortunately, it’s bringing a little something new to the show based on Niantic’s other popular video game. The global version of the show will feature a new musical score created by Jacob Yoffee (“Free Meek,” “Andi Mack”). [...]

  • Action Bronson Cannibis and Legalization

    Action Bronson Has Music, Marijuana and the Munchies Covered in Booming Career

    Action Bronson is a 21st century renaissance man. A hip-hop icon who recently released his fifth album, “White Bronco,” the Flushing, Queens, native, whose real name is Ariyan Arslani — with a Muslim Albanian father and Latvian Jewish mother — is probably best-known for hosting a pair of TV series for Viceland: the talk variety [...]

  • Netflix Our Planet Sophie Darlington

    Netflix's 'Our Planet' Roars to Life With Work by Top Wildlife Cinematographers

    In terms of scope, production time and — very likely — budget, Netflix’s “Our Planet” is one of the most ambitious projects from the streaming service to date. Narrated by David Attenborough and made available worldwide on April 5, the goal of the eight-part series is to capture diverse habitats across the globe and highlight [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content