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NBCU, Dish Bury Hatchet Over Ad-Skipping Features

NBCUniversal and Dish Network last week settled a dispute that centered on Dish’s AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime features, which enabled users to skip ads in DVR recorded programming.  

“NBCUniversal and DISH Network L.L.C. have reached an agreement resulting in the dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over the AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime features,” NBCU said in a statement.

Per the settlement, Dish’s AutoHop ad-skipping functionality will not be available for owned-and-operated NBC stations until seven days after a program first airs.

NBCU and Dish have also reached a carriage deal, but further details on it are not currently available. In March, Dish Network said it had filed a lawsuit against NBCU, alleging breach of contract, while also seeking arbitration that, it said, would prevent NBC from pulling its signal while negotiations continued. The carriage deal ensures that it won’t come to that.

Before the latest settlement, NBCU was the sole litigant in the original suit, which argued that AutoHop violated copyrights and carriage deals with Dish.. In February 2016, Dish and 21st Century Fox settled their lawsuit over the ad-skipping feature, an agreement that soon followed a new carriage deal between Fox and Dish announced in January 2015. Like the NBCU-Dish settlement, the one between Dish and 21st Century Fox included a provision that disables the AutoHop feature for seven days after a program originally airs. Dish earlier agreed to disable the AutoHop feature after renewing its carriage deal with The Walt Disney Co (which was not part of the 2012 suit) in March 2014 and with CBS in December 2014.

Dish introduced AutoHop at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, teeing up a feature for the Hopper DVR that skips commercials that are recorded by PrimeTime Anytime, a component that records all of the prime time programming of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. Under the original set-up, AutoHop would be applied to those shows the day after they were originally recorded.