Fox once again failed to persuade a court to stop the No. 2 satellite company from helping its subscribers stream TV shows from their home DVRs. The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a 2013 District Court decision that rejected Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction while it debates whether it’s legal for Dish customers to use their Hopper DVRs to transfer shows to different rooms, or stream them to smartphones, tablets and other digital devices. The broadcaster said it would lose advertising and negotiating clout if the service continued while the trial proceeds. The District Court said Fox had failed to prove its point. Appeals court Judge Dolly Gee says today that the lower court ”committed no legal error and made no clearly erroneous factual findings in so ruling.”
Fox says that while it’s “disappointed” in the ruling “it is not unexpected, as the bar for a preliminary injunction is extremely high.” The company adds that it “had nothing to do with the merits of our claim and does not address the fact that ‘Dish Anywhere’ is both illegal and in violation of our existing distribution agreement. We will now move forward and fully expect to prevail at trial.”
But Dish General Counsel R. Stanton Dodge trumpeted “the fifth in a string of victories for consumers” in challenges to its Hopper DVR. “We will continue to vigorously defend consumers’ right to choice and control over their viewing experience.” Sling introduced its streaming technology to the consumer market in 2005.
The Dish Network chairman made his plea on Monday in meetings with all five FCC commissioners and several staffers, according to a Dish filing today. Comcast’s $45B deal for Time Warner Cable “presents serious competitive concerns for the broadband and video marketplaces and therefore should be denied,” Dish told regulators, according to its account of the talks. “There do not appear to be any conditions that would remedy the harms that would result from the merger.” Charlie Ergen said that Comcast could hobble Internet video services at three choke points: The cable company would control last-mile connection to the home and the point where content providers access Comcast’s network. In addition, it could squeeze potential rivals by devoting lots of its web capacity to special high-speed lanes for favored services. “Each choke point provides the ability for the combined company to foreclose the online video offerings of its competitors,” the filing says. Read More »
The change, to begin in Q3, will make Dish Network the largest company that accepts the controversial virtual currency it says this morning. Subscribers can make one-time bitcoin payments on mydish.com. The No. 2 satellite company will process payments via Coinbase, whose Instant Exchange will translate the amounts into U.S. dollars based on the exchange rate when the transaction takes place. Subscribers can pay with whatever bitcoin wallet they choose. Critics say that the digital currency is too subject to abuse, including by criminals who want to launder their funds. The SEC recently warned that users may be targeted by ”fraudsters and promoters of high-risk investment schemes.” But the IRS also classified bitcoins as a capital asset, making them subject to capital gains taxes. “Bitcoin is becoming a preferred way for some people to transact and we want to accommodate those individuals,” says Dish COO Bernie Han. Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam calls Dish’s decision “a large step forward in the growing momentum of customers paying companies in bitcoin for things we do every day, like watching premium TV.” Dish notes that subscribers still can make online payments in dollars from a credit card, debit card or bank account.
Lots of company watchers were surprised to see AT&T agree to pay $49.5B for DirecTV figuring that Dish Network — which has been amassing wireless spectrum — would be a more logical target for the telco. But it turns out that Dish chairman Charlie Ergen’s much-discussed but still nascent plan to create a wireless broadband service made his company less attractive. If AT&T tried to buy a potential competitor it “would be likely to raise additional regulatory questions and scrutiny, especially at a time when we have a couple of FCC spectrum auctions scheduled,” CFO John Stephens said this morning at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. He was careful to note that DirecTV was a first choice, not a runner-up, as he talked up its “premier” network, distribution system, content, and “premier people.”
Related: Consumers Group, Public Interest Org Respond To AT&T-DirecTV Deal
Stephens reiterated a lot of the selling points AT&T and DirecTV raised this week for the deal including their ability to offer content across multiple screens. Programmers will want to do business with AT&T because its reach in broadband, wireless, and – with DirecTV’s 20M subs – satellite video will make it “a national force.” DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket also is important; AT&T can walk away from the deal if the satellite company doesn’t renew its licensing … Read More »
Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen was peppered with questions in his quarterly call with analysts and reporters about the recent deal with Disney opening the way for a Web-delivered, low-priced personal video service that will offer a slimmed-down collection of pay TV channels. He says there’s still some work to be done on the technology, and in lining up programming partners in addition to Disney. “We’re comfortable launching with what we have, but think there may be some more programmers who’ll want to experiment with this,” Ergen says. It’s designed to appeal to people who don’t subscribe to cable or satellite, especially those who consider them to be too expensive.
The goal is to make it profitable by charging high rates to advertisers who want to target their sales pitches by owner, location, or other metrics. “We know if you’ve had a car for eight years or you’ve gone to look for a car, [and] we can download a car ad — as opposed to if you just bought a car last week….We can do local commercials down to the address of the house.” The ad pie “someday will be huge.” And it would be “malpractice” for Dish to “put our head in the sand and obsolete ourselves.” Although pay TV subscription numbers are holding up, the phenomenon of cord-cutting is “like the lobster that gets boiled. You don’t know that you’re dead and boiled until it’s too late.” Meanwhile, the deal with Disney repaired a key alliance. “Disney was our worst relationship with a programmer and now I hope it’s our best relationship,” he said. Read More »
Possibly, but the smart money today is betting that AT&T would prefer Dish. DirecTV shares are up 5.5% in mid-day trading following a Wall Street Journal report that the telco giant initiated conversations about a deal that could be worth $40B. But Dish Network is up even more at 7.5%. “We scratch our heads” at AT&T’s motivation to team with DirecTV because the satellite company “does not have wireless spectrum,” Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker says. She suspects the approach to DirecTV is a way “to perhaps ‘flesh out’ [Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen] to pursue some sort of transaction with Dish.” Guggenheim Partners’ Paul Gallant also says that AT&T would prefer Dish, which has been amassing rights to spectrum in the hope of creating a wireless broadband business. That could be important for AT&T because “it is not immediately obvious where new spectrum comes from after the FCC’s broadcast spectrum auction in 2015.”
Wunderlich Securities’ Matthew Harrigan believes an AT&T-DirecTV combo makes sense. AT&T’s U-verse has just 5.7M video customers. Teaming with DirecTV, with 20.1M U.S. subs, would “offer a premium demographic national video solution that supports first to market 4K TV capabilities while allowing AT&T’s U-verse plant to be entirely dedicated to broadband.” (Its systems now allocate 15 Mbps to video and 10 Mbps to Internet.) Read More »
Steven Swain, formerly a vice president of Dish’s Corporate Finance Group, is being promoted to senior vice president in charge of the network’s Programming Group. Swain will report directly to CEO Joseph Clayton. In his new role, Swain will be responsible for the acquisition and renewal of programming content, including national network and cable channels, Latino content, local broadcast stations and premium services such as HBO, Showtime and Starz. Before joining Dish in 2011 as VP of Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis, Swain spent 10 years at CenturyLink (formerly Qwest Communications) where he served in multiple leadership roles in that company’s Finance and Network Engineering organizations. Dish also announced today that EVP and CCO David Shull will begin a six-month leave of absence May 31 to assist with the care of a family member. During that time Shull’s team also will report to Clayton.
More than two dozen network-affiliated Hearst Television stations went dark on the satcaster tonight after the sides hit a wall in their retransmission talks. Dish Network‘s carriage deal with Hearst TV expired March 1, but the parties had extended the deadline to tonight at 7 PM Pacific. The blackout affects more than two dozen Hearst stations including ABC affil WCVB in Boston, the nation’s No. 7 TV market, and outlets in top 25 markets Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Tampa, FL. It comes the same day that the Weather Channel and satellite giant DirecTV settled their carriage dispute and seven months after Time Warner Cable and CBS settled their bitter retrans fight.
Related: FCC Chairman Eyes Limits On Local TV Alliances For Retrans Deals
Investors seem to be clearing their heads from the adrenaline jolt they experienced yesterday when Bloomberg reported that Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen recently approached DirecTV CEO Michael White to discuss a potential merger — in part as a response to Comcast’s $45.2B deal to buy Time Warner Cable. Shares in both satellite companies shot up on the news, but have started to settle as of midday trading today leaving Dish +5.5 over the day and a half period with DirecTV +2.6%. The big surprise in the report was that Ergen is still interested in a deal: He has been focused lately on amassing wireless spectrum to launch a broadband service, and has made skeptical comments about the prospects for traditional satellite TV. But he and White have noted that the companies could save a lot of money — if regulators would let them combine. Read More »
Pilot Locations 2014: New York Production Rises, Los Angeles Plummets, Texas Hot
By Nellie Andreeva – While California Gov. Jerry Brown is still “not committed” to expanding the state’s film and TV tax credit, Los Angeles is seeing another drop in broadcast pilot production to what appears to be an all-time low. New York, which also lured The Tonight Show franchise away from Los Angeles, returns this year as the most popular drama location and reinforcing its strong position in comedy.
Dish And Disney Finalize Output Deal That Ends Their Ad-Hopper Dispute
By David Lieberman – The companies have officially announced a “wide-ranging” deal, which “will result in dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop.” The agreement calls for Dish to disable AutoHop functionality for ABC content within the C3 ratings window. The pact also for the first time allows Dish customers to access Disney’s authenticated live and VOD products.
White House Backs Broadcasters In Aereo Case
By David Lieberman and Dominic Patten – The Solicitor General’s office put the Obama administration solidly in the anti-Aereo camp with a 40-page amicus brief filed with SCOTUS.
‘The Wire’s David Simon Takes On Oprah-Produced HBO Mini On Martin Luther King
By Mike Fleming Jr. – I’m hearing that David Simon, the architect of the HBO series The Wire, Homicide and most recently Treme, will spearhead the HBO six-hour MLK miniseries adaptation of America: In The King Years, based on the celebrated book trilogy by Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch. Read More »
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom look at the big Dish-Disney deal and what it might mean for other media companies and even a possible sports-free online pay-TV service. They also discuss Disney’s continuing headaches with its Interactive unit, whether FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s new rules for local broadcast alliances go far enough and look at the speculation about Carmike, the big exhibitor whose strong quarter fueled speculation that it will be a fat takeover target.
Deadline Big Media podcast 75 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media podcast 75 (.M4A version)
Read More »
The CBS chief describes Dish Network and Disney’s new programming agreement as “a win-win for both companies.” But it’s still “not quite enough for us,” Les Moonves told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference today. He likes the fact that Dish chairman Charlie Ergen curtailed the ability of his Hopper DVR to automatically zap ads on ABC shows; the new deal will delay that until three days after a show airs. (CBS and other broadcasters sued Dish saying that the Hopper infringed on their copyrights and violated programming contracts. Dish says the Hopper simply automates the ad skipping that DVR viewers already do with their remote controls.) Moonves also doesn’t mind the terms in the deal with Disney that would enable Dish to carry its channels on an Internet pay TV service, also known as over-the-top. “Everybody’s talking about over the top,” he says. “We’re talking about it with many of the [pay TV distributors] we’re in business with….The current ecosystem works very well, but a new way to get paid for your linear content is a good thing if it’s done appropriately.” He adds that consumers will probably see a online pay TV service “in concert with our partners.” That could include Dish: Moonves says that “our deal with Charlie is up at the end of this year. It’ll be an interesting conversation, as they always are with Charlie.”
Related: Les Moonves Vows To Drop Dish If It Keeps Pushing Ad-Zapping DVR
Read More »
It’s definitely a set-back for those who fantasized about such a service based on what we know from the wide-ranging program carriage agreement the companies announced last night. Many industry watchers thought that someone might be able to compete with cable and satellite by charging a lower price for a package of Internet-delivered pay TV channels that didn’t include sports — the leading contributor to rising programming costs. The Dish-Disney deal is the first to publicly address the terms of a potential online, or over-the-top (OTT), service that Dish has been mulling (similar to what Sony and Verizon appear to be planning). And while Disney wouldn’t require the satellite company to offer all of its channels, it would insist on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ABC Family, and Disney Channel. That represents “the worst of all worlds,” MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says. A service that includes ESPN, but not regional sports channels, “has too many missing networks to appeal to families who care about sports and is too expensive to be differentiated for families who don’t. Time to shovel the dirt on this idea.” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger also says that the agreement only allows subscribers to a hypothetical OTT service to access one stream which means it’s “not suitable for a traditional household with multiple TVs/viewers.”
If anything, the deal strengthens the power of sports programmers to thrive with subsidies from non-sports fans. Among the channels that Dish agreed … Read More »
UPDATE, 5:20 PM: The companies have officially announced a “wide-ranging” deal, which “will result in dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop.” The agreement calls for Dish to disable AutoHop functionality for ABC content within the C3 ratings window. The pact also for the first time allows Dish customers to access Disney’s authenticated live and VOD products. The full release is below the original story.
PREVIOUS, 3:59 PM: They both made big concessions as part of a new — and long-awaited — program carriage deal that Dish Network cut with Disney, The Wall Street Journal reports. It says that Dish Network has agreed to disable the Hopper DVR’s “Auto Hop” feature for ABC shows for the first three days after they air. Disney, in return, will drop out of broadcasters’ suit against Dish. They’ve said that the DVR’s feature that automatically jumps past ads on some recorded shows infringes on their copyrights and violates carriage contracts. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has steadfastly cast himself as a champion for his customers’ interests, saying that Hopper simply automates what DVR owners already can do with their remote controls. Now that Dish and Disney have agreed to allow ad zapping after three days, we’ll have to see whether other broadcasters can accept similar terms. CBS chief Les Moonves said in November that he’s “very flexible. We’re willing to negotiate.” Last month Ergen said that he was “cautiously optimisic” about striking a deal with Disney, in part because CEO Bob Iger — who’s also a member of Apple’s board – “has looked at [terms] in ways that others have not.” Read More »
Dish chairman Charlie Ergen had little new to report about his company’s negotiations for a broad, long-term deal to carry ABC, ESPN and other Disney-owned channels. “It’s taken longer than any of us would like,” he said in a call to discuss his company’s Q4 earnings — adding that he’s “cautiously optimistic” they’ll have a deal before his company’s next quarterly conference call. There’s been no material change in the discussions, “just changes in technology and what might happen. Slight changes in strategy. It’s just a complex deal trying to look out into the future.” But he’s encouraged because Disney CEO Bob Iger, as a member of Apple’s board, “has looked at it in ways that others have not.”
Related: Dish Says Comcast-Time Warner Cable Deal Will Create “Seismic Shift”
Chairman Charlie Ergen made the comment to analysts today noting that Comcast’s proposed $42.5B acquisition of Time Warner Cable would concentrate broadband, video, and content in “a single company…That’s going to send a seismic shift across our industry in ways we can’t predict today.” While he isn’t ready yet to take a formal position — he wants to see the companies’ formal filings and talk with his board first — he says a merger “increases the risk to everybody else” in the business. It also “doesn’t hurt” the case for a merger of Dish and DirecTV. If it’s OK to combine the No 1 and No. 4 pay TV companies, then it’s “hard to see why you couldn’t put the No. 2 and No. 3 providers together.”
Ergen challenged Comcast and TWC’s claims that they don’t compete. “They certainly do. They compete for content.” For example, last summer, if CBS had to negotiate a new carriage contract with Comcast and TWC — as opposed to just TWC — then “CBS would probably be paying them to keep it up. Dish doesn’t have that kind of scale…We send our check every month with a smile.” He added that one “reasonable concession for the Comcast team to make” would be to tie the rates it pays for programming to the prices that other distributors pay — known as a Most Favored Nation agreement. “The merger is of enormous scale … Read More »
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals may have nixed Fox again today in its efforts to shut down Dish Network’s ad-zapping DVR service, but the network still sees victory down the line. “We are disappointed in the decision but recognize that preliminary injunctions are rarely overturned on appeal,” said a Fox Networks Group spokesperson after the court today unanimously rejected Fox’s petition of last August. “That said, the ruling was based on a factual record from more than a year ago. Now that we have gathered more evidence, we are confident that we will ultimately prevail on all of our claims.” The case goes on in trial court. In the meantime, Dish, which has had a good run with the courts on the Hopper issue of late, once again wrapped itself in the flag of standing up for consumers. “With this decision, the Court continues to reject Fox’s efforts to deny our customers’ access to PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop — key features of the Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR,” the satcaster’s General Counsel R. Stanton Dodge said of one of the many broadcaster suits against his company. “This is a victory for American consumers, and we are proud to have stood by their side in this important fight over the fundamental rights of consumer choice and control.”
Dish Network Ups Hopper DVR Capacity To Record 8 Shows Simultaneously
ABC Blasts Dish Network’ Ad-Zapping DVD In Injunction Appeal
Read More »