Dish's Hopper DVR Could Result In More Lawsuits, TV Compensation

Gavel-ABCThe major broadcast networks’ court battles with Dish Network over its Hopper DVR could be extended -- with Dish finding itself on the losing end, according to a Wall Street analyst.

Litigation is ongoing about a feature (the AutoHop) that can automatically eliminate all commercials in some prime-time shows. A Barclays analyst suggests more lawsuits are coming from the Big Four regarding new capabilities.
 
In conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Dish took the cover off a next-generation Hopper, which will allow for live TV viewing on mobile devices outside the home and the shifting of content onto the devices for viewing on-demand outside the range of an online connection. Slingbox technology propels the functions.
 
Barclays’ Anthony DiClemente wrote in a Friday report that Dish will “likely” have to return to court, due to the new features facing allegations of breach of contract. DiClemente also said the broadcasters may have a persuasive argument.
 
“While Dish is seemingly trying to push the industry in the right direction with TV Everywhere, or simply gain leverage over the programmers, we believe the company needs to pay due compensation to the content owners for the new and innovative services that they hope to offer,” he wrote.   
 
Networks are receiving compensation from distributors for rights to offer their content via live streams and on-demand outside the home. DiClemente suggested Dish is circumventing that process and violating agreements.
 
“We believe (Dish) views the Hopper technology as being helpful with subscriber acquisition and retention -- and if a lawsuit is the consequence of acquiring new subscribers, then that is simply the cost of admission,” he wrote. “However, due to what we believe is a breach of contract, we don’t think Dish’s new Hopper will be able to exist without some payment going to the networks.”
 
If Dish does reach deals with networks, DiClemente said it could find a “legitimate place in the (TV) ecosystem as an improved user interface.”

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