Tech Industry

Dish sponsors Daytona race car, zips past TV ad ban on Hopper

Dish's Hopper product lets TV watchers skip the ads -- so the networks have in turn been declining to run ads for the Hopper. But when Fox shows the Daytona 500 on Sunday, the Dish logo will race around that obstacle.

To get on TV, Dish has adopted Leavine Family Racing's No. 95 Ford Fusion driven by Scott Speed.
Business Wire

Dish Network is a believer in advertising its Dish Hopper DVR, which allows users to automatically skip ads on recorded programs. The AutoHop feature, as well as the capability to watch programming over the Internet and on mobile devices, are the subject of multiple lawsuits brought by the TV broadcast networks.

To get around the ban by the TV networks on advertising the Hopper product on their airwaves, Dish has become the sponsor for the No. 95 car driven by Scott Speed in Sunday's Daytona 500, which will be on the Fox Broadcasting network.

"Everybody skips commercials, and if Fox, CBS, ABC, and NBC think that's illegal, well I guess that makes us a nation of outlaws," said Dish CEO Joe Clayton in a press release. "We might as well make the No. 95 car the Dish fans' getaway car in what is sure to be an exciting race on Sunday!"

Lawsuits brought by CBS (the parent company of CNET), Fox (News Corp.), NBC (Comcast), and ABC (Disney) so far have not stopped Dish from selling the Hopper, which Dish says is in 2 million homes. The networks contend that Dish Hopper is illegal, and that Dish doesn't have the right to tamper with advertising from broadcast replays for its own economic and commercial advantage.

On Thursday, Fox amended its lawsuitasking the court to stop sales of Dish's DVR based on features in the just-released Dish Hopper with Sling, which lets users watch programming on the go, over the Internet, and on mobile devices via its place-shifting Sling technology.

Fox maintains that those features in the Dish Hopper with Sling violate the contract between the two companies. Fox's amended lawsuit, filed on Thursday, states (PDF):

By making its bootleg, commercial-free, on-demand programming available over the Internet and on mobile devices via Sling, Dish is usurping rights it never negotiated for and does not possess, in order to compete unfairly with authorized providers such as iTunes and Amazon, who pay for the right to offer commercial-free VOD versions of Fox programming to their customers.

In November 2012, a U.S. District court rejected Fox's request for a preliminary injunction to disable the Dish Hopper AutoHop technology, which was first introduced last year. Fox appealed that ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A hearing is slated for March 22 to address Fox's amended claim.

As for Dish's sponsorship of a Daytona car, a Fox representative sent the following statement: "Fox Sports will put all its energy into covering the Daytona 500 in the same extraordinary way we approach every event we televise."

Read: CBS claims Dish concealed AutoHop ad-skipping technology

Read: Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen: 'I don't want to kill ads'

Read: Editor's takes: Dish Hopper with Sling

Read: CEA back Dish in Hopper copyright lawsuit

Update, 9:17 a.m. PT: Adds comment from Fox about Sunday's race.