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DISH Wins Court Verdict for Hopper Streaming Service

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DISH Network Corp. (DISH - Free Report) received a favorable ruling yesterday as the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected FOX Networks’ appeal to disallow the former from using its “DISH Anywhere” service. “DISH Anywhere” is a TV Everywhere technology through which DISH subscribers, using the company Hopper DVR box, can watch live TV programs remotely and can also stream TV contents on their mobile devices using the Internet.

Couple of years ago, DISH had introduced an innovative HD whole-home DVR called “Hopper” together with a sidekick called “Joey.” The device enablesa user to watch TV shows and movies in 4 different rooms at the same time and record 6 HD shows at once. Hopper has been developed with an in-build 2-terabyte hard disk that can store 2,000 hours of sports and entertainment contents.

Furthermore, DISH introduced a new feature called AUTO HOP, which enables its subscribers to record prime time TV program simultaneously from four major networks, such as CBS, ABC, NBC Universal, and FOX Networks. The best part of this technology is that subscribers’ can watch the recorded TV shows without viewing commercial advertisements.  

Immediately after the release of Hopper AUTO HOP DVR, four major TV broadcasters filed legal suits against DISH. These TV broadcasters were ABC of The Walt Disney Co. (DIS - Free Report) , CBS of CBS Corp. (CBS - Free Report) , FOX Network of News Corp. (NWSA - Free Report) and NBC Universal of Comcast Corp. (CMCSA - Free Report) .

These TV content producers claimed that commercial advertisements are at the center stage of the broadcast TV business model and hence, skipping those advertisements will simply make their businesses unsustainable.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark verdict had prohibited Internet start-up company Aereo to stream TV contents to its subscribers without paying retransmission fee to the TV broadcasters. FOX Network cited DISH’s Hopper DVR case is similar to that of Aereo’s TV streaming service.

In defense, DISH argued that its Hopper DVRs are physical devices which stays at customer’s premises whereas Aereo’s network is based on cloud-based DVRs. Subsequently, the federal appeal court ruled in favor of DISH. However, legal proceedings will continue in the future.  

In Mar 2014, DISH achieved a significant milestone by signing an online pay-TV deal with The Walt Disney. The agreement will allow DISH’s customers to watch live shows of the latter on devices like PCs, smartphones and tablets, thereby bypassing the need for a set-top box. 

Moreover, The Walt Disney also dropped its earlier objection against DISH’s ad-skipping AUTO HOP device.   DISH currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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