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.

Filed Under: ad skipping, dvr, settlement
Companies: comcast, dish, nbc universal


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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 1 Jul 2016 @ 10:48am

    Hmm...

    Racketeering?

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 1 Jul 2016 @ 10:57am

    Success

    I get the impression you think this was a total waste of time. Not really. The lawsuits were hugely successful...for the lawyers.

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

  • icon
    John Snape (profile), 1 Jul 2016 @ 10:59am

    Only in the bizarro world of copyright maximalists, NOT showing copyrighted material (at user request) constitutes copyright infringement.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 1 Jul 2016 @ 11:02am

    So Dish decided to bleed itself to death. Interesting case study of a suicidal company.

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

    • icon
      PRMan (profile), 1 Jul 2016 @ 11:31am

      Re:

      Dish is taking a hit on the old technology (traditional cable/satellite) and simultaneously being the first of the new (Sling TV).

      It's the most brilliant move since Netflix started streaming.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jul 2016 @ 11:40am

    So is my DISH bill going down since my Hopper won't hop anymore?

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

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 1 Jul 2016 @ 12:16pm

      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.

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

      • identicon
        DontHaveANameToday, 1 Jul 2016 @ 1:20pm

        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.

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

  • identicon
    Deniable Sources, 1 Jul 2016 @ 12:08pm

    Perfect!

    So in exchange for crippling a feature - AutoHop for recently broadcast content - that I neither use nor care about, I get another feature - Sling TV - that I will neither use nor care about. What could be better?

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Jul 2016 @ 1:18pm

    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.

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

  • identicon
    UniKyrn, 1 Jul 2016 @ 3:22pm

    SageTV and Comskip, simply doing what I want for a decade+

    My incentive to go buy a product that can't match what I've been able to do for all those years is what exactly?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jul 2016 @ 7:21pm

    Ads, What Ads?

    In a related story, BitTorrent fans and Kodi users, respond, "huh?"

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

  • identicon
    Stosh, 2 Jul 2016 @ 11:27am

    Ad fulfill a noble purpose...it gives you time to go to the bathroom or get a snack, has been since you had to get up and turn a dial to change stations (all 3 of them).

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

  • identicon
    Tensteppin, 2 Jul 2016 @ 1:53pm

    Only means that I no longer watch CBS, NBC or FOX

    I find that I have better quality "television" from other sources anyway, RIPieces CBS, NBC and FOX, you won't be missed.

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

  • icon
    Espryon (profile), 3 Jul 2016 @ 12:01am

    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.

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

  • icon
    JBDragon (profile), 5 Jul 2016 @ 7:41am

    So really, the Dish Hopper is worthless unless you wait 7 days later? That's just dumb. I'll stick with my TIVO with it's commercial skip that works minutes after the program airs. Being a Cable Cutter, and getting my TV from the Antenna, the TIVO works great for my needs. I rarely see any commercials.

    If I'm not watching TIVO, I'm on Netflix.

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


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