Dish delays ad-skipping AutoHop for CBS with no sign of streaming deal

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For the Dish Network, CBS with advertisements is better than no CBS at all.

The satellite provider has agreed to delay its ad-skipping AutoHop technology for seven days after any CBS broadcast. In exchange, CBS ended a Dish blackout that lasted 12 hours on Sunday, and will drop all litigation related to Dish’s AutoHop and Prime Time Anytime technology.

Dish customers will also get access to Showtime Anytime, allowing them to stream Showtime shows on phones, tablets and other connected devices.

AutoHop lets users automatically skip the commercials in primetime network shows, starting four hours after they air. Dish advertises AutoHop as a “technology that you will love—and the networks hate,” and that’s not an exaggeration; CBS, NBC, Fox and Disney (which owns ABC) have all sued Dish over the technology.

Why this matters: Blackouts are an occasional reality for cable and satellite subscribers, as networks and TV providers come to blows over increasingly expensive carriage fees for their content. Usually these flare-ups end unceremoniously, with any higher costs eventually passed on to subscribers. But in this case, Dish is agreeing to cripple a feature that has angered TV networks for years. It’s unquestionably bad for subscribers, but in Dish’s view, it’s not as bad as enduring an extended blackout and possibly losing more customers as a result.

Nary a mention of streaming

The CBS deal is reminiscent of an earlier arrangement with Disney, in which Dish agreed to pause AutoHop for three days after a show’s original air date. But this time, it looks like CBS came out ahead. Not only did it secure a longer window of seven days without AutoHop, but there’s no mention of a streaming video deal like the one that Disney and Dish agreed on.

With Disney, Dish managed to secure streaming rights for several channels, including ABC, the Disney Channel, and ESPN. Dish wants to offer an Internet-based streaming service that would be cheaper than traditional cable packages, with a smaller bundle of channels aimed at younger viewers who’ve ditched cable or never had it to begin with.

But Dish has yet to actually launch the service or reveal concrete details. A recent report by Variety claimed that Dish still hadn’t reached deals with CBS, NBC or Fox, and said users might have to get basic cable channels through an antenna. The carriage deal with CBS could be a sign that Dish is giving up on including those basic cable channels, or that the entire plan is headed downhill.

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