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Dish Network Closes Blockbuster Acquisition

"Dish has Netflix envy," says BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield.

NEW YORK -- Charlie Ergen's Dish Network said late Tuesday it has closed its acquisition of video rental company Blockbuster.

"We are pleased to have purchased the assets of Blockbuster and look forward to building on the nationally recognized Blockbuster brand while improving the experience of delivering entertainment to consumers," said Tom Cullen, executive vp for Dish in a statement.

Meanwhile, BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield in a Tuesday report became the latest Wall Street observer to try and make sense of some of Dish's recent strategic moves, including the acquisition of Blockbuster and some wireless spectrum, as well as recent decisions to drop some regional sports networks.

"Nobody seems to know what exactly is going on inside the head of Charlie these days. No, not Charlie Sheen; we are talking about Charlie Ergen," Greenfield wrote. "A slew of seemingly unrelated moves have baffled investors and media industry execs in the past several months."

His conclusion: "Dish has Netflix envy."

Greenfield explained, "On a recent call to subscribe to Dish service, we were offered three months of free Dish Platinum -- which includes Epix. The Dish customer service representative referred to the Platinum package as 'our Netflix'.” 

Ergen on a recent earnings call also acknowledged that if it came down to starting a video service today, Netflix would be more efficient to launch than a pay TV firm.

Ergen's end goal is not clear yet though, Greenfield said.

His suggestion is that Ergen may see "a new blueprint for video programming as a hybrid between the old model (linear programming) and Netflix’s subscription on-demand programming." Said the analyst: "We wonder whether Ergen’s goal is to focus on a small group of linear networks that are must have destinations for consumers and supplement it with a robust on-demand offering that allows anytime/anywhere access to a wide array of programming -- albeit without sports."

Dish reports its latest quarterly earnings on Monday and is expected to provide some detail on its plans for Blockbuster.