Dish Network Extends a Bridge to TV Apps

NEW YORK — Dish Network is about to make it easier for third parties to develop apps for Dish Explorer, a tablet application launched in January for its Hopper HDDVR line that serves as a fancy remote control and bakes in recommendation and social-networking features.

As the first step of that process, the satellite-TV provider will open up the application programming interfaces for Dish Explorer on July 15, senior vice president of product management Vivek Khemka announced last Thursday (June 27) at the 2nd Screen Summit here.

One of the goals of the program, Khemka said, is to consolidate some of the fragmentation occurring in the second-screen TV app market, which comprises myriad recommendation engines, reward-based TV “check-in” services and components that connect to various social networks. Although many of these apps are compelling, dedicated one-off s, Dish’s program will give them a key ingredient they currently lack: integration with the pay TV provider that controls the set-top box.

Dish will start off working with “trusted parties” to ensure that the apps being developed will protect customer data and content security, Khemka said.

It’s also an acknowledgment that the nascent TV secondscreen community is developing valuable apps that Dish wants to take advantage of and won’t necessarily be able to build on its own. “Someone in the audience can build a better app than we can,” Khemka said.

Dish released the Explorer App for the iPad on Jan. 7. Working in tandem with the original Dish Hopper whole-home DVR and the newer Sling-loaded model, Explorer lets users navigate the channel lineup, manage their DVRs, select and start up video-on-demand streams, and get recommendations using data tabulated from Twitter and Facebook.

Dish is also using Explorer as a way to experiment with a wide range of apps. If they’re successful, Dish also has the option of porting them to the set-top or to its TV Everywhere application.

“Explorer is kind of our test bed,” Rob Sadler, Dish product manager, told Multichannel News.

Sadler said Dish already has a “waiting list” of app developers the company would like to work with, and identified Buddy TV and Dijit as among the kind content-discovery apps that Dish might look to.

Dish hasn’t detailed its business model for the approach, but he said Dish isn’t charging for the APIs and doesn’t anticipate striking revenue-sharing arrangements. However, Dish will run a certification program.

Among the apps already integrated with Explorer is Thuuz, a sports recommendation engine that uses trending metrics to predict the excitement level of games, keeping viewers apprised, for instance, if a no-hitter is in the works.