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CES: The Dish Hopper DVR's PrimeTime Anytime: So Who Needs Hulu?

One of the more interesting features of Dish’s Hopper multiroom DVR — set to be announced at CES on Jan. 9 — is that it’s designed to record the entire primetime lineup of the four big broadcasters automatically.

Dish’s Hopper will have 2 Terabytes of storage, according to a story posted (then pulled down) by Dealerscope earlier this week (see CES: Dish Poised To Unveil Wireless Broadband Plans, Multiroom DVR: Reports).

Let’s assume the PrimeTime Anytime feature uses, say, 1 TB of space to record shows on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC that air between 8-11 p.m. weeknights. Conservatively, that means Dish subs with the Hopper will have instant access to the full lineup of more than two weeks of shows. And, they’re available not only on TV but also — through the SlingLoaded capabilities of the Hopper — via any computer and virtually any mobile device, over any Internet connection.

So who need Hulu? Or, more to the point, who needs Hulu Plus, the $8-per-month service that provides access to TV shows across multiple devices?

Credit for this idea goes to tech blogger Dave Zatz, who immediately surmised that the feature would diminish Hulu’s catch-up value proposition: “Seeya, Hulu Plus?” he wrote in a post yesterday about Dish’s CES announcements.

True, Hulu Plus includes more than the last two or three episodes of a given show (although if you want a broader breadth of TV shows you’re going with Netflix or possibly Amazon). And if you really care about a show, you’re going to set your DVR for it anyway.

But the Hopper’s PrimeTime Anytime feature is a smart move for Dish. For one thing, it’s a way to get around the fact that satellite doesn’t have true VOD. And it’s a totally marketable benefit that sounds compelling: Get access to every recent broadcast primetime show — on any device, from anywhere.

However, you probably won’t see the likes of Comcast (which owns NBC) or Time Warner Cable go this route — since they see an opportunity to generate incremental revenue from dynamic ad insertion on VOD. Circumventing that with a Hopper-like feature wouldn’t help those efforts.

Having said that, though, TWC (and Cablevision) risked the wrath of programmers in slinging live TV to iPads. Will “DVR everything” ultimately win the day? As a TV viewer, I’d love it to.


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