"You're watching something unique to you, on a smart device. It knows who you are, who you call, it has your credit card information, it knows physically where you are through GPS. Once it's smart, the advertising opportunity is really magnified," he said.
Dish and Disney have been locked in negotiations to renew their contract since the last one expired on Sept. 30. Surprisingly, Ergen says he's willing for Dish to skip carrying Disney/ABC's programming altogether, which would be a dramatic first in the pay TV industry.
"Disney has not historically been one of our best relationships, which is probably my fault. We could go forward without a relationship with Disney," Ergen said. He said it would be bad over the short term but could pay off in the long haul.
"You don't marry every girl you date… Disney's a very pretty girl," he quipped, saying they'd like to make Disney their best relationship, but if they can't have a good relationship "both companies will do fine, move on."
Unlike the Time Warner Cable-CBS clash, which led to a monthlong blackout, these two media giants have agreed to keep their programming on the air during negotiations. Ergen said Dish and Disney both want to avoid going back to the negotiating table to hash out new terms when a new innovation is introduced a few years down the line.
He echoed Disney CEO Bob Iger, saying he's "cautiously optimistic we'll get a deal done." While he said "there are always economic issues," the Disney deal is distinguished by the fact that the conflict is all about digital rights.
"Disney contracts are generally long in nature," Ergen said, adding "this deal is looking at where technology is going. Disney, it turns out, is [further] along in the technology curve."