Off again on again: CBS back on Dish Network after outage

Off again on again: CBS back on Dish Network after outage

AutoHop will be less fun under new CBS/Dish deal.
AutoHop will be less fun under new CBS/Dish deal. (Image: Screen capture from Dish Hopper ad.)

WASHINGTON, December 6, 2014 – Now you see ‘em, now you don’t, now you do. Often bitter negotiations between CBS and carrier Dish Network broke down yesterday, leading Dish to immediately remove the CBS stable of company-owned stations and cable affiliates from their menu.

But after some 12 hours’ exile in the satellite Phantom Zone, CBS et. al. have returned to the Dish menu. Both companies announced they’d reached a final, multi-year deal involving not only money—as in streaming rights and carriage payments. Dish also resolved a long-standing dispute with the network giant involving the satellite company’s controversial Hopper DVR box.

Heavily advertised by Dish from the outset in weirdly humorous commercials involving a belligerent, working class, clearly Boston-based family of Hopper lovers, this DVR, among other features, happily zapped the ads from prerecorded shows upon playback. This “AutoHop” feature has proved a huge hit among Dish subscribers but a major irritant to networks and advertisers who see only a loss of value and revenue.

The new deal involves a compromise that partially curbs Hopper’s ad-zapping superpowers with a bit of commercial Kryptonite. According to Deadline Hollywood,

The satellite company says that it will disable the controversial AutoHop feature, which automatically speeds through commercials on recorded shows, in the first seven days after a program first airs on CBS’ stations and affiliates. The network will dismiss its suit against Dish over the matter.

In other words, if you can hold off for a week on that “NCIS: New Orleans” episode you missed, you can still ditch the ads. But if you can’t wait that long, you’ll have to deal with waiting and holding and watching obnoxious Christmas adverts just like you would if you’d arranged your sked to watch the show during its initial broadcast time. Apparently, patience is still a virtue, even in 2014.

Dish had reached a similar deal with Disney earlier this year, disabling AutoHop but only during a 3-day waiting period.

The new Dish deal with CBS “covers all of CBS’ stations, and cable channels including Showtime, CBS Sports Network, Smithsonian Channel,  and TVGN,” according to Deadline. “Dish will have rights to Showtime VOD content, and can stream Showtime Anytime.”

Additional CBS properties available for streaming on Dish have not yet been disclosed. Ditto the dollar amount involved in the new package deal. Hint: Dish subscribers will be paying more when they re-up their current deal.

With regard to streaming: We note that the streaming video service available via Dish rival Verizon’s FiOS “On Demand”—which doesn’t rely on a VCR box—has been disabling the fast-forward feature users could use on their remotes to zap the network’s ads and promos.

This irritating development makes FiOS On Demand it less valuable to users of the service, at least when it comes to replaying recent shows from CBS properties. No word yet as to whether Dish’s new agreement with CBS will do the same.

Caveat emptor.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17