Dish Network unveiled a big-capacity DVR at the Consumer Electronics Show today -- with an unusual function that allows users to record many network
prime-time shows automatically.
The DVR -- called the "Hopper" -- is massive, and can hold 250 hours of HD TV shows or 1,000 hours of standard-definition TV shows. The satellite programmer's new DVR can hold two terabytes of data.
One main Hopper feature enables customers to automatically record prime-time shows from the big four broadcast networks -- Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS -- and store them for up to eight days. "Over three hours per night of HD prime-time programming are available," according to the Dish site.
While big storage video devices aren't new, TV analysts say this is Dish's attempt to compete with big video-on-demand services -- Hulu, Netflix, and Comcast's own On Demand service -- at which consumers can access thousands of TV shows.
Some, however, worry that this big Dish DVR might be linked to technology that gives us 'Network DVR.' Cablevision Systems Corp. pushed something similar a few years ago, only to draw the ire of TV networks and others because their DVR technology could essentially "store" programming before consumers request it. TV networks said this infringed on their programming copyrights.
According to Dish advertising materials for the Hopper: "You'll have instant access to the best prime-time programming without having to set timers or using up your personal DVR hard-drive space. Plus, you can save your favorite On Demand prime-time content forever."
Cablevision prevailed in its defense of its new DVR in 2009 after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider the case. Last year, Cablevision launched a "DVR Plus" service -- a $10.95-per-month service for 160 gigabytes of storage. That means storage of up to 100 hours of standard-definition programming or 24 hours of HD programming. Comcast has also been planning a small network-DVR trial sometime later this year.
The Dish "Hopper" is -- like other new DVR machines -- a “whole-home digital video recorder" that can be accessed by other smaller DVR units in the home.
As part of its CES announcements, Dish also disclosed an expanded programming deal with HBO, additional programming for its Blockbuster movie service and a broadband Internet via satellite option.