/// Charlie Ergen Ticks Off the TV Guys, Again
Last year, Charlie Ergen used CES to lob a bomb at the TV establishment, and ended up fighting the TV networks in court. 2013 could end up shaping up the same way. Yesterday Ergen’s Dish Network used the gadget show to unveil several new improvements for its “Hopper” service, including one that will certainly upset the TV networks: A feature that will let Dish customers watch any show they’ve paid to see, on any device they want, when and where they want to watch it. If this seems like a pretty basic concept, it is. And it’s one the rest of the TV industry has been trying to roll out for the past few years. The difference: The TV networks and the pay TV providers working on “ TV Everywhere ” schemes have been arduously hammering out an assortment of deals, which means that some subscribers to some TV services can watch some shows under some conditions but not others . Ergen, on the other hand, seems to have simply gone ahead and rolled the feature out, without asking Time Warner, Comcast or anyone else for permission. And he and his employees seem happy to go to court. “We’re trying to be at the forefront of existing technology,” Dish CEO Joe Clayton told Bloomberg . “If that means some lawsuits, OK.” This sounds a whole lot like last year, when Dish put its thumb in TV’s eye by rolling out a DVR that automatically skipped ads on some programs. That freaked out the networks, for obvious reasons, and some of them ended up taking Ergen to court a few months later; the case is still working its way through the system. In theory, if Ergen wins either fight, it could be a big deal for the TV ecosystem. But I’m not sure how much consumers actually care about either outcome.
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Charlie Ergen Ticks Off the TV Guys, Again