Will ‘Auto Hop’ Technology Destroy the Television Business? The Fight Heads to Court With Lawsuits on All Sides

May 25, 2012  •  Post A Comment

The major broadcasters and Dish Network are trading lawsuits over Dish’s "Auto Hop" feature, which allows viewers to skip over commercials taped through its "Hopper" digital video recorder, reports Reuters. Many in the industry are suggesting that the technology threatens to destroy the television business model.

CBS, Fox and NBC are filing lawsuits in an effort to halt Dish from airing programs that would let viewers watch them without interruption, while Dish has asked a Manhattan federal judge in its own court action to declare the service doesn’t infringe on any copyright owned by the top four networks, the story says. It wasn’t immediately evident what ABC’s plans are, the piece adds.

Dish, which has 14 million subscribers, has riled the TV networks with the service, which the networks say would undermine their advertising model, eliminating their main source of revenue.

Dish introduced the Hopper earlier this year, with the Auto Hop feature added on May 10. The company started promoting the product just as the broadcasters introduced their upfronts, when new programming is introduced and advertisers start buying commercial time for the next season, the story points out.

In its complaint, Dish maintains Auto Hop doesn’t delete commercials and that the feature doesn’t alter the broadcast signal. Fox countered that Dish doesn’t have the right to sell a product as "commercial-free TV" without permission, and is seeking compensatory and other damages.

During the Cable Show earlier this week Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt came out on the side of the TV networks on the ad-skipping issue, expressing disapproval of Dish’s Auto Hop, as reported previously.


  1. My computer automatically blocks pop-ups and *all* display advertising, using an add-on called AdBlock for my Chrome browser. How is this different from what DISH is proposing? Is it the money at stake? Are broadcasters “too big to fail”? I think not.

  2. Broadcasters have the right to stop distribution through Dish if they want. When they do, Dish will likely lose subscribers; and then the hopper will hop away.

  3. A few years back, VCRs were sold with the commercial skipping feature. The hopper is no different than that feature.

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