DISH introduces The Hopper; Networks Hopping Mad

Less than a year ago, DISH Network was the television broadcast company you loved to hate, especially if you were a fan of AMC Original shows like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. When DISH dropped the channel, AMC appealed to fans in a sweeping “Drop the Dish” campaign (alternately, “Save the White House”) and allowed DISH subscribers to stream a new episode of Breaking Bad to remind them what they’d be missing. The outraged backlash was powerful enough for DISH to reconsider, ultimately settling with AMC back in October.

So how do you go from “corporate villain” to “championed underdog”? You give the people what they want, at the expense of even bigger corporations—in the case of DISH Network, you introduce a commercial-zapping DVR that sends the major networks into conniptions. Enter: The Hopper

The Hopper Takes the Stage

Since the invention of TiVo and DVR technology (first introduced at CES in 1999), one of the greatest consumer perks has been the ability to fast-forward through ads. Networks and advertisers, however, have been less than appreciative. The Hopper takes away the need to manually fast-forward with its “AutoHop” feature, so you don’t even have to watch the sped-up Chipmunks rendition of each commercial. Naturally, DISH is now under legal assault from FOX, CBS, NBC, and other media networks, but precedent seems to be in The Hopper’s favor, so far.

The Consumer Electronics Show 2013 is where things got really interesting, when CNET awarded “Best of CES” to The Hopper, only to have that decision redacted by parent company CBS. At least one CNET official resigned over the censorship, and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) gave CNET the boot, ultimately awarding a shared “Best of CES” to The Hopper and the Razer Edge gaming tablet (CNET’s revised winner). And just like that, DISH began to “fight for the Users” and regain the public support that they lost in their clash with AMC.

How The Hopper Will Doom Television

That’s not the end of the story, though. If AutoHop technology is deemed legal and starts to become a standard DVR feature, you can’t expect advertisers to sit back and continue to pay for ads that aren’t being seen. Instead, we’ll likely see an increase in product placement advertising and those horrid overlay ads (called “banners” or “logo bugs”) that pop up on top of whatever show you’re watching, sometimes even with audio. Yes, it defiles the viewing experience, but the networks will likely argue that consumers gave them no choice.

Enjoy The Hopper and its AutoHop function while you can—if they can’t beat it, you can bet they’ll circumvent it.

photo credit: Pop Culture Geek via photopin cc


Brent Urmey is an avid reader and writer on a variety of subjects, including social media, SEO, the Wireless industry, and life in Lancaster County, PA. He is a graduate of Drexel University and a survivor of the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse. You can connect with Brent on Google +.