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.

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Companies: cbs, dish, disney

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Comments on “Negotiating Away Innovation: Dish Agrees To Kill Autohop To End TV Blackouts”

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TruthHurts (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There are still too many places in this country where you cannot stream anything at, so no, DishTV isn’t legacy.

Once the FCC mandates Title II for all internet infrastructure and service providers, and demands payback for the billions in federal funds that were given out to improve overall broadband for the entire country, we’ll see major expansion and speed improvements which may relegate their distribution model.

I foresee an interim where any company can rebroadcast encrypted versions of the cable channels to any customer anywhere in the United States using broadband delivery and the cost for subscriptions will plummet.

TruthHurts (profile) says:

Guess what CBS...

My fast forward button still works.

Autohop was a great feature saved me from having to hit fast forward repeatedly.

I never watched CBS commercials, but now I have to put more effort into it.

So I’ll be suing CBS for repetetive stress syndrome caused by having to repeatedly hit the fast forward button over and over and over and over and over and you get the idea.

If you’re a Dish customer, you should sue CBS too.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

What¿ There are commercials online, I haven’t seen one in years. Though, the last time I saw a commercial in a stream was when the Xbox360 changed their dashboard to serve video adverts. I promptly blocked it’s origin on my router to keep my sanity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Reminds me why we need places like China…
Basically some Chinese corporation can write the code and install it in a NAS and sell the very same features without too many problems from the MPAA, because of jurisdiction issues. The end effect is China gains export profits and we lose jobs and a potential new killer product. Welcome to innovation.

“Night City was like a deranged experiment in social Dar-
winism, designed by a bored researcher who kept one thumb
permanently on the fast-forward button.”
― William Gibson, Neuromancer

TruthHurts (profile) says:

Dish had retransmission rights already.

Dish streamed the content, with commercials intact, it never removed them.

It then asked the customer if they wanted the receiver, which has the full show, including commercials, if they wanted to see them or not.

It just automated the fast forward button.

It did not change what Dish transmitted to the receivers in any way, shape or form.

It did not change the shows in any way, shape or form.

It just automated what millions of viewers were already doing.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:


Maybe the broadcasters are having a hard time with advertisers because they cannot ‘prove’ that viewers watched their commercials. Seems naive. I think many folks don’t watch commercials when they do get through whatever technology one might use to block or skip them.

Personally, I use commercial time productively.

1. Refrigerator raids
2. Bathroom breaks
3. Update browser to see if new article or comments exist on favorite websites.
4. Yelling at cat (useless I know, but still more productive than commercial watching)
5. Crossword puzzles
6. Picking lint out of…well it really does not matter as it is still more productive than watching commercials.
7. Etc, which means anything, and all those undefined things are by nature more productive than watching commercials.

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