Well, it’s good to have that over with. According to Variety, FOX and DISH have settled their lawsuit concerning Auto Hop, the commercial-skipping technology in Hopper DVRs. You may remember that Auto Hop was one of the key features of Hopper when it launched, but it was immediately beset on all sides by lawsuits and challenges. It took some time for the court stuff to shake out, but according to our fine government Auto Hop isn’t illegal. That leaves it up to individual contracts with programmers, and while that hasn’t killed the feature, it’s made it hard to advertise.
In any given market, Auto Hop could work with some shows and not all, some channels and not all, or not work at all. Or it could work perfectly on all channels and all shows. It’s all up to the contracts that DISH has worked out with individual networks and channel owners. In this case, FOX had a long-standing lawsuit against DISH saying that Auto Hop violated certain contracts. Finally after three years, the parties have settled.
The good news – if a lawsuit between FOX and DISH was keeping you up at night, you can finally sleep. Also, FOX shows will be Auto Hop enabled, but not until 7 days after broadcast and that means the majority of people won’t really think about using it.
I certainly understand FOX trying to limit Auto Hop since it’s the very commercials Auto Hop skips that pay for programs. But I think we all know that the model of commercial supported TV, at least the way we saw it in the 20th century, doesn’t have a whole lot more life. The future seems to be something like Hulu’s implementation where shows have 2-3 minutes of non-skippable commercials per hour or you can pay a few dollars a month more for commercial-free service. People simple don’t want to wait through 3-4 minute commercial breaks and that should be pretty obvious to everyone right now. Whether it’s Auto Hop or DIRECTV’s unsupported commercial-skipping feature, people want ways to banish those long commercial breaks. They’ve gotten out of control.