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Dish Network is heading to court with several major broadcasters, with a focus on skipping ads

Fox, NBC and CBS are taking Dish Network to court because of a new feature that allows subscribers to skip over commercials in recorded content.

Dish is currently the No. 2 satellite TV provider with 14 million subscribers, and also filed suit to make ad-skipping acceptable with an official judgment.

If the current dispute isn’t handled immediately, there is a chance that it could cause distributors to pull their content from Dish.

The company’s “AutoHop” feature is unique because subscribers are able to skip all of the commercials, instead of fast-forwarding and jumping in small segments. AutoHop isn’t available to all 14M subscribers, and can only be used to skip commercials for prime-time broadcast TV episodes.

“Viewers have been skipping commercials since the advent of the remote control," said David Shull, Dish Senior VP of programming, in a statement. “We are giving them a feature they want and that gives them more control."

As more TV viewers watch TV episodes and movies on-demand on their DVRs, advertisers and TV broadcasters are looking to better monetize their content. The TV ad industry nears $20 billion per year, but advertisers are increasingly worried about DVR viewers -- a continually growing number -- simply skipping ads of recorded programs.

Fox and several other major broadcasts prohibit users from fast forwarding through on-demand content, so they have to wait for the ads to finish. In its licensing agreement with Dish, for example, Fox says the provider can retransmit prime-time content, though fast forwarding through commercials is prohibited.

Dish doesn’t believe AutoHop will make a long-term impact on whether or not commercials are viewed, but the big four broadcasters and Time Warner Cable strongly disagree.

After the service was first announced, Dish reportedly welcomed input from broadcasters, but there were immediate rumors of possible lawsuits. It should prove interesting to see which side wins the court debate, because it could have a major ripple effect hitting advertisers and subscribers.

Source: New York Times

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Replay TV Went Through This
By WalksTheWalk on 5/25/2012 8:41:43 AM , Rating: 3
Dish Network had to have known this was coming. It's Replay TV lawsuit redux.

Personally I think it's good for someone to push these boundaries since it gives legal clarification to what is allowed and not allowed in the marketplace. There are arguments to be made for both sides and several gray areas regarding content control and the ability to modify (skip) broadcast content where ads are the primary revenue source.

By theapparition on 5/25/2012 11:44:42 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah I was going to say the exact same thing.

Replay TV was so much better than TiVo back in the day. Better hardware, software and user guide. They were coming on strong until the lawsuits killed them.

Still have some old Replay TV boxes in the basement somewhere.

RE: Replay TV Went Through This
By Reclaimer77 on 5/25/2012 2:20:22 PM , Rating: 3
I think what really killed Replay TV was the "Send Show" feature that let you share recorded shows with anyone lol. Pretty gutsy but what could they have been thinking?

Personally I think it's good for someone to push these boundaries since it gives legal clarification to what is allowed and not allowed in the marketplace.

Too bad these rulings have gone the wrong way. It's not the responsibility of the consumers or device makers to, and I'll use quotes from your link, respect "the lifeblood of most television channels", i.e commercials.

I cannot find any law where the viewing of commercials has been made mandatory. It's not. So how can companies be sued off the planet for offering that feature? It's abhorrent.

By WalksTheWalk on 5/25/2012 3:52:58 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, sharing was definitely the biggest issue for Replay and one of the major legal points that caused their legal problems.

As for skipping commercials, we've been able to record and forward through commercials for quite a long time now with the VHS recorders previously and now DVRs. There's a slight difference here in that skipping is not forwarding, but I could stop a VHS tape and forward without watching the commercials too. It just wasn't convenient.

To me, big content distributors like the TV networks, music and such, need a big wake up call. They are applying an analog business model to a digital age. What they need to do is get their digital distribution in place now so it's available everywhere to every device in a low-friction way. If they do this they stand a better chance in the picture later. Without a digital distribution model, the content creators will find their own and dis-intermediate the current distributors. They also need to consider that sometimes it's better to give some content away so it reaches a larger audience that would normally never see it. If the TV networks gave their content away for free via digital distribution with their commercials intact they would have a much larger audience and could better attract advertisers. Some people would skip the commercials but many would also watch them.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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