What new Dish-ESPN deal means for Beav fans

MAYBE YOU'VE ALWAYS had Dish. Maybe you switched over to Dish recently in order to watch the Beavs on the Pac-12 Networks. Whatever the case, if you have Dish, it's worth noting the satellite carrier and Disney-owned ESPN have reached a new long-term deal that will change the way you will watch the Beavs both this coming season and beyond.

For starters, the deal includes the provision that Dish will (finally) offer ESPNU in high definition. Two Beaver games last season were shown on ESPNU.

Secondly, Dish will become the first service to offer a pay-TV operator's content outside a traditional TV subscription. In other words, Dish is taking the first steps towards offering a Netflix-like TV service to people who would rather stream TV over the Internet than watch via a satellite dish.

DISH HASN'T spelled out the details yet. And it's unlikely Beaver fans could go all the way and "cut the cord" this year and still get all the ESPN content they currently receive through a customary TV subscription, (not to mention access to the Pac-12 Nets.)

But long-term, things appear to be moving that direction after what is being called a landmark agreement. Think of it as the first step. The traditional pay-TV business model is going to go away at some point, industry experts are all pretty much agreed on that. It's figuring out the "when" that's difficult. And one of the key barriers to cutting the cord has been that people who watch sports and ESPN don't have any good options. This agreement looks like ti will start the ball rolling on changing that.

FOR THIS SEASON, Dish customers will gain full access for the first time to ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, which allow for live and on-demand program viewing on mobile devices in or out of the home. (Again, exactly what content will be available here has not been spelled out.)

Also part of the deal -- Dish will carry both the Longhorn Network and the upcoming SEC Network once it launches in August. Both networks are owned by ESPN.

Prior to the agreement, media experts had speculated that either Dish or DirecTV would carry the new SEC Network, but probably not both. Meanwhile, DirecTV and the Pac-12 Networks remain at an impasse 19 months after the conference launched their network.

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