Negotiating Away Innovation: Dish Agrees To Kill Autohop To End TV Blackouts
from the shameful dept
The various TV networks have been suing Dish for the past couple of years because of its “autohop” feature, which automatically records prime time shows, and then lets subscribers watch them (starting the very next day) with commercials automatically skipped. So far, Dish has won basically every ruling in the case, showing that such technology is perfectly legal.
But now it’s probably dead.
As we predicted would happen back in March, CBS has used its fight over retransmission to get Dish to agree to basically kill off autohopper, delaying it for 7 days after the show initially airs. In exchange, CBS will drop its lawsuit over autohopper, but also agree to allow Dish to offer its programming online (“over the top” as they say). This is basically the same deal Dish struck with ABC/Disney back in March as well, meaning that it’s the same thing that every network will eventually agree to as well.
The retransmission fight was always lurking in the background of the autohopper lawsuit. The networks claimed that since Dish had existing negotiated deals for retransmitting network shows, the autohopper stuff was a contract violation (in addition to a copyright violation). So, basically, the legal fights lasted until the retrans negotiations had to come up again. Getting agreements for internet streaming is certainly nice, but to have it come at the expense of a nice bit of innovation like autohop is ridiculous. Perhaps it opens the door for third parties to make such technologies themselves, but these days standalone DVR products are pretty much a relic of history.
Of course, how long will it be until someone sets up a commercial system for acting as a DVR for internet streams, complete with commercial skipping features? It’s doable today, but you can bet that even though it’s just like a regular DVR/VCR, the legacy TV guys will flip out and call in the next coming of Aereo.