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Les Moonves: Dish, Disney AutoHop Deal ‘Not Enough' for CBS

4 Mar, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

CBS CEO Les Moonves

CBS chief says network won’t agree to similar ad-skipping language with satellite operator when its retransmission deal expires at the end of the year

While characterizing Dish’s landmark retransmission agreement with The Walt Disney Co. as a “great start,” CBS CEO Les Moonves told an investor group that precluding pay-TV subscribers from skipping ads on recorded primetime programming until three days (C3) after broadcast doesn’t work for CBS.

Speaking March 4 at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom confab in San Francisco, Moonves said CBS would opt for a minimum seven days (C7) — if not longer — after broadcast.

“It’s a great to say, ‘OK, after three days you can use [AutoHop],” Moonves said. “It’s not quite enough for us because we’re going to want some different things.”

Dish’s broadband Hopper DVR features AutoHop, technology that allows users to automatically skip TV commercials on recorded primetime programming. Several broadcasters, including Fox, CBS and ABC, sued Dish claiming AutoHop violated retransmission and copyright agreements.

To date, the courts have sided with Dish, which gave the satellite operator some leverage renegotiating its retransmission deal with Disney. As a result, Dish was able to secure over-the-top (OTT) video rights to select Disney linear programming, including ESPN, something it might not have been able to do previously.

Moonves said Disney negotiated with Dish from a different perspective and based on different assets. He admitted the network’s brass read “with great interest” the OTT aspects of the Dish arrangement.

Moonves said OTT rights are a hot item currently with all multichannel video program distributors, including cable, satellite and telecommunication. He said new ways to get paid for linear content is always a good thing.

“I think it is a win-win for [Dish and Disney],” he said. “It’s an acknowledgement by Dish [that] ‘yes, we can’t zap commercials while the content providers are getting paid for it significantly.”

Moonves said CBS’s retransmission deal with Dish expires at the end of the year, which he said should lead to “interesting conversations” with the satellite operator’s founder and chairman Charlie Ergen.

“They always are,” he said. “We expect a good deal to come out of it, and this is a great preliminary step for everybody.”


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