New Hopper feature enables out-of-home viewing
Even with its AutoHop technology embroiled in a legal battle, Dish not only didn’t back down from the content companies at a Consumer Electronics Show press conference Monday but backed up its controversial DVR with a host of new, potentially controversial features.“Broadcasters would have you all believe that American consumers are breaking the law,” said Dish CEO Joe Clayton, referencing the ad-skipping functionality embedded in the satcaster’s Hopper, the whole-home DVR he introduced last year at CES. “If bypassing commercials is illegal, I guess we’re all a nation of outlaws according to the major broadcast networks.” Clayton also addressed the nasty negotiations with programmers that occasionally result in channels going dark. “While unsettling to our customers and employees, this is sometimes necessary to slow the spiraling programming costs,” he said. “We, as an industry, are rapidly approaching a tipping point: how many consumers are going to spend $100 per month for video content? I don’t know, but we’ll soon see.” Dish is doubling down on Hopper, which execs at the satcaster said moved 2 million units in its first year on the market. Among the new features that will join AutoHop are Hopper with Sling, which will allow subscribers to watch live, DVR or VOD programming both in and out of the home across Apple iOS and Android devices. In addition, Dish upgraded the chipset powering Hopper to double its speed and memory, a move the satcaster is hoping will put some distance between its DVR and archrival DirecTV’s recently deployed Genie DVR. Another new Hopper feature allows users to transfer DVR recordings to an iPad without using an Internet connection for offline viewing. Dish is also rolling out an app dubbed Explorer, which transforms tablets into a remote control and second-screen content companion. Hopper will also power an onscreen app targeting sports fans with extra content.