The legal battle between Dish Communications and the broadcast networks over the satellite broadcaster’s new feature that makes it easier for its subscribers to skip commercials may be the biggest issue between the two sides -- but it isn’t the only one.
In an interview, David Shull, Dish’s senior vice president of programming, expressed frustration over the networks’ growing willingness to offer their content on digital platforms such as Hulu and iTunes. That makes the programming that Dish is paying for less valuable, Shull said, and was one of the reasons that it pushed its AutoHop device.
“It devalues the live value of that content to my customers,” Shull said, referring to how programs or even clips from shows go up on websites such as Hulu, or on sites owned by the networks themselves.
Given how available a lot of content is on other platforms, Shull sees offering viewers a chance to watch those shows without commercials as something of a perk.
“This gives them a little bit more control,” Shull said, adding, “We wanted to make sure they had a better experience.”
Earlier this month, Dish said it was dropping the AMC cable channel, home to “Mad Men,""The Walking Dead” and"Breaking Bad,” and mentioned that one concern about the channel was that the cable network’s programming can be found on other platforms soon after its initial airing.
Shull said he reached out to executives of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox over the last two weeks to have a sit-down at Dish headquarters about the AutoHop but the invites have so far been rebuffed. He said lawsuits charging the feature violates copyright law -- filed Thursday afternoon by Fox, CBS and NBC -- are an “overreaction” to the technology. Shull said he understands that advertising is core to their business, but thinks the next-day delay and the fact that most programming is still watched live should ease their concerns.
Some broadcast network executives have suggest that more money from Dish in the form of subscription fees for their channels would be more likely to ease their concerns about the AutoHop. Shull’s not buying.
“I’ve already paid them quite a bit,” Shull said.