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TV Giant DISH Launches Bitcoin Payments Program

(@pete_rizzo_) | Published on August 14, 2014 at 13:45 GMT

DISH hopper

DISH customers can now use bitcoin to pay their monthly TV bills.

The Colorado-based company went live with its bitcoin payments program today as part of its previously announced third-quarter rollout.

The first customers to pay for DISH services using bitcoin are Austin and Beccy Craig. The American couple have famously chronicled their attempts to live using only digital currency on their Life on Bitcoin blog.

Speaking to CoinDesk, DISH head of corporate communications John Hall framed the news as part of the company's overarching goal to embrace innovation:

"DISH has always been about investing in better customer experience, whether that's changing the way that we watch TV or the way that we bill."

Hall said the company's bitcoin payment option will now be visible to those using its online My DISH accounts and its Hopper HD DVR devices.

"You can actually go into an app within the Hopper and pay your bill, and now if you choose bitcoin, it will come [up] with a QR code that you can pay right on your TV screen," Hall added.

DISH will accept payments through bitcoin merchant processor Coinbase.

Life on Bitcoin gets easier

Beccy Craig told CoinDesk that, while she was previously been a DISH customer, she's looking forward to resuming the service now that she can make monthly payments in bitcoin.

She also illustrated how a service like the one now available through DISH could have improved her experience living solely on bitcoin, saying:

"I keep thinking about how nice it would've been to have when we were living on bitcoin. We were so limited in what we were doing even just day-to-day, like driving 40 miles each way to go get gas. We didn't really have a lot of entertainment when we were living on bitcoin."

Austin Craig added: "We had a lot of time to read books and take hikes, but there were not very many luxuries like DISH."

While TV may have been off limits at the time, the couple did have some success stretching the limits of what was available for purchase with bitcoin, even booking airline travel and hotel stays.

The couple's adventure is due to be chronicled as part of the as-yet unreleased 'Life on Bitcoin documentary. As of June, the project was in the process of being submitted to at least one major film festival.

DISH expects slow customer response

Though Hall confirmed DISH is excited about its newest payment offering, he said the company is still unsure as to what the initial response will be from consumers.

"To be quite honest, it's too early to tell," Hall said. "[We've] heard some pretty good feedback from consumers that are interested in doing this with DISH, which is encouraging, but you can't really put a number on what the response will be."

He went on to suggest that the company expects a small number of new subscribers as a result of the payment option, but that the amount of these customers will increase over time.

"Likely we'll start slow and go from there," he added.

DISH is currently the second-largest bitcoin-accepting business by annual revenue, earning $13.9m a year.

Image via CNET

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