Dish Agrees To Make Ad-Skipping DVR Less Useful In Settlement With Comcast, NBC Universal

from the dumb,-protracted-waste-of-money dept

For years now, broadcasters have waged an unrelenting legal war on Dish network for giving consumers what they want: namely a DVR that automatically skips advertisements users weren’t watching anyway. Fox, CBS and NBC Universal collectively sued Dish back in 2012, claiming that the ad-skipping technology embedded in its “Hopper” DVR violated copyright. CBS took this fight to some bizarre and troubling lengths, going so far as to pressure CBS-owned CNET to avoid reviewing the device and even demanding CNET back down from giving Hopper a CES award back in 2013.

In 2014, CBS and Disney both settled their suits, with Dish agreeing to cripple the ad-skipping technology for new programs, in exchange for streaming licensing for use by Sling TV. Fox continued to press on, and while Fox won on some contract issues regarding whether Dish could offer recorded content outside the home, it lost on most of its copyright claims — settling with Dish earlier this year.

That only left Comcast NBC Universal, which held out longer in part because Dish (and Sling TV) are direct competitors to Comcast’s own cable TV services, but also because the two sides were engaged in a larger debate over retransmission contracts. But even Comcast NBC Universal agreed to settle with Dish this week, finally bringing the legal fisticuffs to an end. As with the other settlements, Dish had to agree to cripple some of its ad-skipping DVR functionality if it wanted to not only settle the case, but get a hold of NBC content for streaming video:

“On Thursday, the last of the lawsuits, the one that was filed by NBC, was stipulated for dismissal. The parties have reached a settlement that will limit ad-skipping until after seven days from a show’s broadcast airing. According to a statement from an NBCU spokesperson, “NBCUniversal and DISH Network have reached an agreement resulting in the dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over the AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime features.”

That puts to bed a multi-million-dollar legal battle that raged for four years — all because Dish made it easier for consumers to do something they were doing anyway. And while it’s great this particularly stupid saga has finally been put to bed, it’s obviously only a matter of time before broadcaster lawyers find some new, consumer-friendly advancement they’d prefer didn’t exist.

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Companies: comcast, dish, nbc universal

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Comments on “Dish Agrees To Make Ad-Skipping DVR Less Useful In Settlement With Comcast, NBC Universal”

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18 Comments
James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well, if you are renting your hopper it would be a solid argument to make with customer service. Assuming of course you are paying more for the hopper then a lower priced regular DVR option. Then you might be able to argue that you paid for the hopper specifically for a feature that is no longer operating as advertised. But then again in that situation They’d probably just switch you over to a new plan with the cheaper dvr you didn’t want originally.

DontHaveANameToday says:

Re: Re: Re:

The thing is, the older DVRs from Dish vs. the Hopper is that the older devices had over the Air antenna connections built in to the product. Meaning that Dish’s (re)current fight with local Fox stations which has blacked out Fox would still allow users to see and record Fox via over the air.

With the hopper customers not only pay fees to each device connected to the Hopper, they have less product in terms of being able to see actual content. Having a bigger hard drive and commercial skipping was never a feature to me, it’s a convenience which I have never used as I rarely watch local broadcast live anyway. PBS sure, but they don’t have crappy commercials to begin with.

I’m more than upset with Dish. My choice to see non local means Comcast, Direct(ATT)v or Dish.

Comcast as illustrated by customer satisfaction and complaints to the FCC is pure evil from the standpoint of service and continual fee increases. Direct(ATT)v is Comcast all over again and Dish while they claim to be on the side of the consumer charge horrendous fees to use their devices, then fail to stop rate increases and while toughting their best intents do NOT actual help consumers keep their costs down. We lose channels on Dish, we still get rate increases and the fees for each connected device put Dish on par with Comcast or Direct(ATT)v in my view.

I’d move to streaming only, but then I have the fight over duopolies, Comcast or CenturyLink. One costs an arm and a leg over it’s lifetime and bi annual rate increases, the other simply doesn’t have the network to make streaming viable.

I blame congress for this mess… Give the FCC teeth, give the FTC more teeth and do what’s right to make this country competitive at the local level.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

It is so very nice that technology consumers want is being crippled by a legacy industry that gets laws than benefit an outdated business model because they refuse to adapt to consumer demand.

Once upon a time businesses thrived when they gave consumers what they wanted, why do we keep allowing them to hold us hostage? Why do we have to accept less than the best because they refuse to notice time keeps marching on? Rather than admit their models don’t make sense in todays market, they sue to try and roll things back to the early days of television when you have to watch what they programmed when it was programmed to air.

Espryon (profile) says:

Not the most frustrating part being these companies have made the auto skip feature even more useless than it already was. I have DISH and it activates only on random content and/or content that the user hasn’t watched for x amount of weeks. DISH though has decided to make premium(ABC, TBS, Fxx, SyFy, Comedy Central, Hallmark, etc) and standard channels now though I.e. The difference between 60 and 200 dollars a month (not even including pay per view content). As such I’ve been working on a homemade DVR and steaming to my raspberry pi’s. I plan to leave dish in a few weeks.

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