No, Apple won’t buy Dish Network (acquiring Comcast would make more sense)

Pundit Robert X. Cringely predicts in a new I, Cringely column that Apple will buy Dish Network, the American direct satellite TV broadcaster. Yours Truly says this will never happen.

Here’s Cringely’s reasoning: “It’s the only acquisition that will give Apple the kind of entry point they want into the TV business, allowing Cupertino to create overnight an over-the-top (OTT) Internet streaming video service — effectively an Internet cable system.

“Buying Dish would be a bold move for Apple because all the benefits Cupertino seeks aren’t obviously available. True, Dish has 14 million U.S. subscribers (I am one of those) who get 100+ channels of TV from the sky. True, Dish has an existing OTT streaming service called Sling that already offers a subset of the company’s cable channels. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that Dish could simply transfer its satellite content to the Internet, at least beyond what it does already with Sling.”

Sure, Apple could buy Dish Network if it wanted. The Cupertino, California-based company has a market value of over $500 billion. Dish Network has a market cap of almost $23 billion. (Market capitalization is the total market value of the shares outstanding of a publicly traded company; it is equal to the share price times the number of shares outstanding.)

But why not buy Comcast instead? It would be much pricer with a market cap of around $148 billion. But it’s the second largest pay-TV company after the AT&T-DirecTV acquisition, largest cable TV company and largest home Internet service provider in the United States, and the nation's third largest home telephone service provider. Dish Network “only” provides satellite TV, satellite Internet, audio programming, and interactive TV services. 

If Apple were to take over Comcast, our favorite tech company (that’s Apple, not Comcast, in case there was any doubt) would have a shot at disrupting the current television ecosystem, and make television content widely available across different web capable devices. Right now it’s rumored streaming service is struggling with licensing issues. 

If Apple were to scoop up Comcast, it would be the highest valued acquisition in corporate history. To be honest, I don’t think such a deal will happen. But it’s more logical than buying Dish Network. Heck, Apple would even have a few billion left over to acquire Tesla Motors (with a market cap of $36 billion). 

AppleCast and the Apple Car, anyone?