Dish Network on Monday announced the U.S. availability of its new Hopper digital video recorder with Sling technology, famous as the on-again, off-again winner of the 2013 Best of CES award.
The satellite cable provider has added Sling Media place-shifting to a DVR that earned a PCMag Editors’ Choice last year in recognition of the first-gen Hopper’s “extensive storage, multiple tuners, and reasonable price,” as PCMag Consumer Electronics Analyst Will Greenwald put it at the time.
The Hopper with Sling keeps all that technology but now it’s “like having a full-fledged Slingbox built into your satellite set-top box so you can watch TV whenever and wherever you want on a number of additional mobile devices,” Greenwald said in his full review of the newly available DVR.
“The magic of Hopper with Sling is that it redefines how customers think about their pay-TV experience. No other provider can offer the experience that is now available to our customers anytime, anywhere,” Dish president and CEO Joe Clayton said in a statement.
The new Hopper comes with Sling technology built in to encode and redirector place-shifta live or recorded TV signal from the DVR to Internet-connected mobile devices running Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android like tablets and smartphones. Dish Network’s Anywhere also works with PCs and Macs, the company said.
Kicking off its push for the new Hopper, Dish was trumpeting a “new multimillion-dollar marketing campaign” starring the same “Boston guys” from earlier Hopper ads run nationwide. But the new Hopper has already received a slew of publicity following an unusual turn of events at CES earlier this year.
The Hopper with Sling received the CNET-sponsored “Best in Show” prize at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, where it debuted. But the tech site later rescinded the award due to ongoing litigation between its parent company CBS and Dish over the Hopper’s “ad-skipping” feature.
In light of all that, CNET wound up recusing itself from reviewing any Dish products, while the satellite provider decided it didn’t matter what CNET or CBS saidit was still claiming the “Best in Show” award for the Hopper. The Consumer Electronics Association, which runs the Consumer Electronics Show, wound up awarding the Hopper with Sling its own “Best of CES” prize.
Meanwhile, CNET said that while it couldn’t review Dish products, it would still cover company news. To wit: the tech site on Monday reported on the availability of the new Hopper, with a side dish, pardon the pun, of skepticism about the company’s national ad campaign for the DVR.
CBS isn’t the only broadcaster trying to shut down sales of the Hopper. Fox, NBC, and ABC are also suing Dish. Speaking Monday evening at All Things D’s Dive Into Media conference in Dana Point, Calif., Dish Network chairman and co-founder Charles Ergen (pictured, above) addressed that ongoing litigation.
“The lawsuits will ultimately decide the fate of commercials. Be careful what you wish for. The broadcasters, if they have their way, could mean the end of the DVR,” he said.
Asked if Dish wants to “fundamentally change” broadcast and cable television, Ergen declined to answer the question directly, instead painting what Dish is doing with the Hopper as “taking the side of the consumer.”
The Dish chairman also told an amusing personal tale about the generational divide in TV viewing habits, describing his house as the place his son and his son’s friends come to watch sports events and “drink all my beer,” whereas at their own homes, they’re “only streaming Netfix and it’s non-stop House of Cards.”
By Damon Poeter, PCMag