Since the initial launch, DISH Network has had trouble with their Hopper, with constant lawsuits from News Corp. NBCUniversal and CBS. At this year's International CES, Cnet, owned by CBS, pulled their Best of CES Award from the Hopper because the parent company's lawyers said they couldn't post a review of the product, let alone give it an award. They have since lost the Best of CES Awards entirely.
This week, the lawsuits, which allege that the Hopper's commercial skipping feature Auto-Hop is tantamount to piracy, hit a roadblock. The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling by a lower court that said that the Hopper was likely legal. Because of this, the injunction that the networks were seeking was not granted and the case is likely to go to trial.
Obviously DISH Network is excited about the ruling. R. Stanton Dodge, DISH general counsel, said of the ruling,
This decision is a victory for American consumers, and we are proud to have stood by their side in this important fight over the fundamental rights of consumer choice and control.
A statement from FOX said,
This is not about consumer choice or advances in technology. It is about a company devising an unlicensed, unauthorized service that clearly infringes our copyrights and violates our contract.
As this case continues, it will be a fascinating face-off between two companies approaching the same topic from very different angles. DISH believes this is a battle over consumer choice and technological advances. The Auto-Hop feature gives consumers the choice on when and how to watch television programming.
The networks, on the other hand, believe this is a battle over content and business model control. In the same way that FOX limits Hulu availability because of a fear of business model change, or CBS's lawsuit against Aereo for the same reasons, the networks are afraid of their broadcast business changing.
Just as Aereo has already won over the networks, so has DISH Network. At this point, the networks have 2 choices: adjust their business models to live in the new media world, or make way for companies like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, both of which have found a way to succeed in this new world.