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As you can imagine, the new technology is likely to upset network executives who have been concerned about DVR ad-skipping since the device was introduced more than a decade ago.
And that could be why Dish chose to launch Auto Hop.
Like other TV providers, Dish is concerned that the networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) are getting increasingly bold in seeking higher compensation for carriage of their channels. The satcaster could be planning to use Auto Hop as leverage in future negotiations.
It shouldn't surprise anyone if that happens. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen is famous for playing hardball in high-level disputes and you could certainly see Ergen looking a network exec in the eye and saying, "You drop the price for your network and I'll remove the Auto Hop feature from your network."
It's interesting that Dish has only added Auto Hop to the new Hopper HD DVR -- and did not make it available on non-broadcast network channels such as TBS, CNN and TNT. It's as if Dish is trying to send a message to the networks:
We can control your future revenues by eliminating your commercials so don't get greedy the next time we sit down to negotiate a new carriage deal.
If indeed this is a ploy -- and it works -- I could also see Dish use it with the non-broadcast cable networks. Dish executives said yesterday that Auto Hop would work just as well with those channels.
Now you might say that Dish would be reluctant to remove Auto Hop once customers start using it. But remember, it's only available on the Hopper set-top -- and only on the broadcast networks. The number of customers affected by removing Auto Hop would be relatively few.
For more on Dish's Auto Hop, see: Dish Unveils DVR Ad Zapper
What do you think? Offer your comments below!