11 February 2016

Fox Breaks Dish's Auto-Hop

Today Fox and Dish announced the settlement of Fox's lawsuit over Dish's Hopper which dates back to late 2012. The Hopper, for those whose memories have faded since 2012, is a DVR with two main features:
  1. It automatically records all of the Big-4 networks' prime time programs; and
  2. with a single selection by a home user, can automatically skip over all of the commercials in the recorded shows. Dish calls this feature "Auto-Hop".
Parsing the features, the first, automatically recording a program, is only a negative to the network in the event that not having the recording makes the home viewer more likely to watch the show (and the commercials within it) on a live basis. I don't think most networks are fighting that fight.

The second, however, is the real fight and the basis of the settlement. Dish agreed to disable the Auto-Hop functionality for the first seven days after a program is recorded. This preserves the "C7 Rating" for Fox -- the measure of how many viewers watch a commercial within the first 7 days that a program airs. C7 is a bit of an aspirational goal for the networks; the most common currency is C3 rating -- viewership in the first 3 days after airing. (CBS settled its complaint against Auto-Hop similarly in December 2014).
Fox is certainly a winner here, negotiating for something that has some clear economic value. More precisely, Fox was able to to stop a feature that might have threatened the advertising business model more than the DVR fast-forward button does. (Note that when networks license content to MVPDs for VOD services, they often insist that fast-forwarding is disabled altogether -- that's the power of being able to withhold your content.)

Dish is also a winner here in that they were able to survive the challenge to the automatic recording complaint, although, it sure seems to this analyst that Fox may have been on thin legal ground trying to stop a feature that simply put, simplified DVR recording.

The loser, naturally, is the viewer who loses some convenient functionality. On the bright side, she gains additional exercise for the finger pushing the fast-forward button (unless the cat knows how).

Previously on peterlitman.com: CBS Hates on the Hopper Some More, Claims Fraud (25 January 2013)

No comments:

Post a Comment