Welcome to today's broadband and cable news roundup.
Dish Network Corp. has launched the latest incarnation of its controversial Hopper whole-home DVR, which includes place-shifting technology from Dish corporate cousin Sling Media Inc. Dish is charging $10 per month for the Hopper, plus $7 per month for each "Joey" that completes the customer's whole-home DVR set-top. Like the first version, the latest Hopper model also includes AutoHop, a feature that skips the commercials captured by PrimeTime Anytime, a service that automatically records the primetime slate of the four major broadcasters (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox). Dish and the broadcasters are also embroiled in a court battle over AutoHop, which the broadcasters claim is a copyright violation. (See Dish's Ad-Zapper Can Keep On Zapping and Dish, Broadcasters Go to War Over Ad-Zapper.)
The Hopper's notoriety reached a new level last month, when CNET voted the product as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Best of Show, but later removed it from consideration at the behest of CBS Corp., CNET's owner, because of the pending litigation between the broadcaster and Dish. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) later reversed that decision by restoring the best of show honor for the new Hopper, and scuttled its partnership with CNET to run the Best of CES awards.
Time Warner Cable Inc. has added more than 4,000 on-demand TV shows and movies from 91 suppliers via its TWCTV.com TV Everywhere hub for PCs and Macs. The launch, which includes both ad-supported free fare as well as subscription-based VoD content from programmers such as HBO, Showtime and Starz, comes about two months after TW Cable launched a similar VoD content upgrade on its TWC TV app for the iPad. Before these upgrades, that trove of VoD content was available only to set-top boxes. TW Cable's apps for the iPad and PCs/Macs also offer live TV streams from hundreds of networks, but are only accessible when the device is within reach of the customer's home Wi-Fi network. (See TW Cable iPad App Opens Set-Top VoD Tap.)
High-definition television should no longer be considered an advanced service; it's clearly a mainstream product. About 75 percent of U.S. homes have at least one HDTV set, up from 23 percent five years ago, Leichtman Research Group Inc. (LRG) finds in a survey of 1,252 adults conducted in December. Additionally, 51 percent of HDTV homes have more than one hi-def set, versus just 22 percent five years ago, and 38 percent of all U.S. households now have multiple HDTV sets. But 3DTV's still a dud, as only 6 percent of all U.S. homes have a 3D-capable HDTV, according to the survey, which also found that 41 percent of homes with 3D-capable TVs don't watch any content in 3D.
Dish Network has hit ESPN with a $150 million lawsuit alleging that the programmer offers Dish rivals, including Comcast Corp., better licensing terms for sports programming. Dish is basing its complaint on a most-favored-nation clause that's designed to give it the same terms that the programmer offers to competitors. ESPN charges $5.14 per subscriber per month on average, Bloomberg reports, citing data from SNL Kagan .
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable