DISH today formally announced the nationwide launch of its Hopper with Sling DVR device, which allows users to record their favorite shows for later viewing, skip ads and also download DVR’d content to their iPad for offline viewing. The Hopper, which incorporates technology from partner Sling Media, Inc., was recently at the center of a controversy around the 2013 CES “Best of Show” Awards.
The Hopper with Sling made its debut at CES this year, and was in the running for nomination as the “Best of Show” for 2013 from official awards partner CNET until parent company CBS stepped in and forbade it from being considered, due to ongoing litigation between CBS and DISH. The Consumer Electronics Association later awarded the Hopper with Sling the honor anyway, cutting ties with CNET as its official awards partner.
The Hopper with Sling is available free to new subscribers on DISH’s America’s Top 200 or DishLATINO Dos programming packages or above, but comes with a DVR fee of $10 per month for whole-home DVR, and an additional $7 per Joey receiver unit, which can playback content from a Hopper in the same house remotely.
In addition to being able to shuttle content to iPads for offline viewing, the Hopper with Sling also works with DISH Anywhere to provide live and recorded content streaming to tablets, PCs, Macs and smartphones, and can record up to 500 hours of HD content or 2,000 hours of SD video.
The Hopper’s unique ability to allow DISH subscribers to take their media with them on the road as offline-accessible files is not likely to win DISH or Sling any fans among content providers, and the actions of CBS following its nomination at CES are likely a pretty good bellwether of the kinds of reactions we’ll see from the larger industry. But there’s a reason the Hopper attracted a lot of attention at CES both before and beyond the controversy – this kind of unfettered access to content that users are paying for anyway is exactly what subscribers want in cable and satellite service, given the changing, increasingly device-independent nature of content consumption.