Three people – Charlie Ergen, Candy Ergen and Jim DeFranco – were hauling an enormous C-band TV dish antenna via pickup truck to a customer in remote Colorado. In the early 1980s this was one of only two dish antennas owned by the developing new business. A powerful gust of wind whipped up, blowing the antenna off its trailer and into a roadside ditch. There goes half of the company.
Summed up as a bad day in the infancy of DISH, the founding trio overcame this setback to build what is now a Fortune 250 company that employs thousands and serves millions throughout the nation – a seemingly unlikely future on that blustery day.
Fast forward to 1995, when Ergen set his sights on launching his first satellite from China, then a novice in the satellite industry. Staking the future of young DISH on one, multimillion dollar satellite, Ergen gambled with the odds of a favorable launch. After watching a Chinese rocket promptly crash and burn, he witnessed the nerve-wracking, but ultimately successful deployment of Echo I.
Several months later, DISH made its first broadcast to customers from its uplink center in Cheyenne, Wyo., using small dish antennas and state-of-the-art technology designed and built in-house.
Today, it appears that the real story of DISH centers on Ergen’s visionary courage to reinvent television distribution. Widely considered the industry leader in technology, DISH’s award-winning innovations include: Hopper with Sling® Whole-Home HD DVR that gives customers the ability to watch live and recorded TV programming from smartphones, tablets and computers; and the Tailgater®, a lightweight, portable satellite dish ideal for watching TV while tailgating, camping, in the RV or at outdoor activities.
In February 2015, Ergen launched Sling TV, the industry’s first over-the-top television service that delivers the best of live sports, news and entertainment to broadband-connected devices at home and on-the-go.
Even as DISH consistently introduces products of increasing sophistication, it also leads the industry by offering the best value – the same channels at a better price. Challenging the economics of pay-TV, Ergen has charged competitors with passing the burden of wasteful spending to subscribers, and he maintains the mantra that DISH will always offer customers the lowest everyday pricing nationwide.