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.

Filed Under: autohop, autohopper, blackouts, contracts, copyright, retransmission, tv
Companies: cbs, dish, disney


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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 8 Dec 2014 @ 9:41am

    Isn't DishTV legacy?

    If DishTV can't negotiate terms, even at the "sacrifice" of "innovation", then it's a useless service.

    Autohop isn't innovation in a streaming world.

    AdBlock is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TruthHurts (profile), 8 Dec 2014 @ 12:41pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2014 @ 10:40am

    Another reason to to invest in technology that you do not control, and in particular 'cloud' services; because when the corporates control access to all human knowledge and entertainment they will have made serfs of everybody else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TruthHurts (profile), 8 Dec 2014 @ 10:45am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2014 @ 1:05pm

      Re: Guess what CBS...

      Not to mention I don't think I'll watch anything live anymore, just so I can skip through commercials.

      CBS already ticked me off by flooding my screen with "warning Dish customers you could lose your favorite shows" messages during the episode.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2014 @ 10:45am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2014 @ 10:47am

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TruthHurts (profile), 8 Dec 2014 @ 10:48am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2014 @ 11:07am

    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 been out for a while now. PlayLater can already skip ads.

    http://www.playon.tv/playlater/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 8 Dec 2014 @ 11:12am

    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?

    In violation of a patent that Dish holds but is not going to implement anymore.

    Nothing like locking up inventiveness through the mechanisms designed to encourage it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 8 Dec 2014 @ 11:20am

      Been there & done that already...

      Any patent that Dish holds in this area is bogus as there's plenty of prior art that predates it. Although that's never really slowed down our out-of-control patent system.

      I have an 8 year old system that auto-skips. It was an old feature then.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 8 Dec 2014 @ 11:25am

        Re: Been there & done that already...

        I remember them talking about the "patented technology" when autohop came out. I'm not sure what patents are involved and when they expire(d).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          TruthHurts (profile), 8 Dec 2014 @ 12:38pm

          Re: Re: Been there & done that already...

          You mean the tech that identifies the commercial patterns and adjusts for when short block commercial breaks are used and when long block commercial breaks are used?

          Something the 6 year old system didn't have.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2014 @ 12:55am

      Re:

      It won't violate Dish's patent as the new one will be "on the internet."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2014 @ 11:28am

    Productivity

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2014 @ 11:46am

    MythTV

    Does it have the same feature?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Edward Teach, 8 Dec 2014 @ 11:48am

    Ahoy!

    Arrg! Tis nothin to me, matey!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 8 Dec 2014 @ 12:01pm

    Gotta love Monopoly

    Mr. Magnate: "Isn't monopoly power wonderful? The d****d courts might keep ruling against us, but we can still make them do what we want!"

    Fawning lapdog: "You're right, sir. The only thing I don't understand is: Why only 7 days? Why not 39,104,709,231,087,094,382,098,340,293,890,249 days?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2014 @ 12:43pm

    I think post card day would be a better move everyone get together each send out one postcard to the cbs presidents home address , this would keep our post office workers on the job so 2 birds one stone, imagine the look on his face when the mail comes . .25cents is a wonderful tool

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 3:37pm

    Is DISH offering refunds or contract releases?

    They've been marketing the DISHOPPER for so long now as one of the primary reasons to sign up that I can't believe they're doing that. How long before someone sues them to get out of a contract because that was one of the major features?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    lazlototh, 10 Dec 2014 @ 6:22pm

    What's a shame is that Dish isn't offering subscribers the option of autohop if they forego CBS. I'd gladly go without CBS in order to have autohop and I'm sure a zillion other people would too and then CBS would see what everyone thinks of it. Maybe it wouldn't make a difference but I'd be interested in finding out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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