Disney deal blazes trail for a Dish without the dish | Internet & Media - CNET News

Dish Network's deal with Disney sacrifices AutoHop, but it does more than just keep ESPN and gain access to more mobile-video apps: It slings Dish into the lead for full-on Web TV.

Dish Network just took the lead in turning Internet TV into reality.

Long have the biggest names in technology -- Apple, Google, Sony -- aspired to elevate tech's courtship of television to full-blown marriage: a multichannel television service, giving you the most popular networks of your cable provider but delivering them over the Internet.

And long has it been a story of unrequited love. No company has yet to make major, public, legitimate strides toward that goal, relegating them instead to grand proclamations of intent or sidelong glances at their hearts' desire.

That changed late Monday, as Charlie Ergen's satellite television provider unveiled a deal with the Walt Disney Co., owner of such networks as ABC and ESPN. Out of a routine contract negotiation, the kind that regularly crops up for every network owner and every pay-TV operator, Dish sacrificed the purity of its AutoHop ad-skipping feature to keep up its access to Disney channels, to expand customers' access to mobile app video, and -- most importantly -- to give Dish the right to stream video, live and on demand, as part of an Internet-delivered television service.