There goes the Hopper: Dish agrees to limit ad skipping in Disney deal

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Dish has agreed to restrict the ability of its Hopper DVR to automatically skip over ads when Dish customers watch ABC shows, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The agreement comes as part of a larger retransmission deal that will continue to give Dish the ability to carry broadcast and cable networks owned by Disney, including ABC and ESPN.

Consumers will still be able to manually fast-forward through ads recorded by their DVR. However, they won’t be able to access the Hopper’s automatic ad-skipping feature, dubbed Auto Hop, until three days after the show aired on TV.

The three-day rule is due to the fact that broadcasters can monetize advertising until three days after a show aired on television. After that window, ads don’t get counted anymore, making them effectively worthless for broadcasters.

Disney’s victory against the Hopper’s automatic ad skipping marks an interesting turn of events. Fellow broadcaster Fox had sued against the Hopper’s ability to skip over their ads, but lost over multiple instances, with courts finding time and again that the Hopper’s ad skipping functionality didn’t violate copyright law.

But while broadcasters have frequently lost in court against new technologies, they’ve almost always won in direct negotiations about retransmission rights. One should expect that other networks are going to demand similar concessions from Dish once their contract with the operator is up.

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