COMMENTARY | Dish Network Corp., the second-largest satellite TV operator in the U.S., has hit a homerun with the ad-skipping Hopper DVR device. No wonder the Salt Lake City-based-company continues to receive a bullish rating on Nasdaq.
The Hopper’s value proposition is this: Let television viewers watch the content they want, when they want, make viewing more efficient, and transform devices (such as tablets) into mini-TVs.
Dish has solved a big problem that has been growing for audiences the past couple of decades with the proliferation of channels. Cable and television networks produced too many channels for viewing. Confusion ensued. And top content got lost in a sea of options.
On paper, hundreds of channel options look better. In practice, it put a choke hold on the average person’s limited amount of time allotted for television.
Without an easy way to record one’s favorite shows, a viewer was left to choose which of two or three primetime episodes they might want to watch. Often, what happened was that these shows all started at the same time.
Programming lacked a centralized focus which created a need in the marketplace to place power back in the hands of the viewer.
The DVR makes viewing more efficient and effective. Networks can blast programming (and advertising), but consumers can take back control of their TV experience.
Now, the battle seems to be which provider can provide the best features in a DVR and incorporate simultaneous trends in HD content, social media, apps, Internet connectivity, and mobile.
Here are features of the Hopper DVR:
- Enables users to pause, rewind and record live programming in any room. You can access your DVR on all televisions in your home.
- Skip commercials in recorded primetime TV.
- Converts a computer, smartphone, or tablet into a mini-television.
- Records 3 hours of primetime programming up to 8 days from the initial air date.
- Records up to six live channels at once, including 4 from local networks
- Its 2 TB hard drive lets users store up to 2,000 hours of shows and movies.
- Internet connectivity gives users access to more than 15,000 On Demand titles.
- Ability to transfer programs to devices.
- Access apps such as Facebook and Twitter from your television.
Dish’s Hopper has been flying off store shelves as consumer preferences have evolved to favor technologies such as DVRs which enable them to save time, watch more shows, and integrate devices (such as tablets) into their home entertainment.
Recently, the satellite TV provider updated the Hopper with an HDMI-CEC function, which means a subscriber’s TV can automatically adjust to the Hopper input as soon as you turn on the box. Thus, users won’t have to keep switching inputs manually. The new software update also lets subscribers see what shows and movies they can watch on Dish’s On Demand collection.
Hopper’s commercial-free ways won a legal battle in Nov. 2012 when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of continuing to allow the sales of the technology. The DVR lets “subscribers record network primetime programs with one click and replay them commercial-free starting the following day,” according to Dish’s blog.
This technology appears to be disruptive for the television industry. Consumers can now save hundreds of hours each year by skipping over advertisements.
Networks may complain and look to the courts for help. But if ad revenue squeezes, they’ll need to focus their dollars on prime content that the audience actually wants to see.
And that may include more research and focus group testing to ensure that pilot shows have a high chance of audience receptivity.
Also, expect companies to do more product placements within the content itself. When disruptive technologies arrive, businesses adjust.