Leave it to Charlie Ergen's DISH Network to figure out a way to hop right over network TV's refusal to air ads for the Hopper.
This Sunday, viewers will see the Hopper logo emblazoned on a car running in Fox's Daytona 500 broadcast. Through an exclusive sponsorship, the Hopper logo will be appearing on Leavine Family Racing's No. 95 Ford Fusion driven by Scott Speed. No other advertising will appear on the car.
All four broadcast networks have been up in arms over DISH's Hopper, which lets viewers play back prime-time programming without any ads. Claiming copyright infringement, all four nets have ongoing lawsuits against DISH, but so far, no court has granted an injunction against the Hopper or rendered a decision. Fox last week tried again, filing an amended lawsuit to ask for an injunction in a California federal court .
CBS even went so far as to direct CNET to pull the Hopper with Sling from receiving the International CES' Best In Show Award, causing the Consumer Electronics Association to hand the award to DISH anyway and dumping CNET as CEA's partner to run the awards.
Neither lawsuits nor controversy has stopped DISH from pulling out all the stops to market the Hopper and its controversy through full page ads in major newspapers and now, by sponsoring a car in the Daytona 500.
"The Hopper is in the pole position as the fastest in the consumer technology race.... Fox is trying to hold up traffic. You can't stop the future," Joe Clayton, president and CEO for DISH said in a statement.
While DISH's latest swipe at the Fox and the other TV networks continues to boil over, the satellite TV service still has to negotiate carriage deals with the networks and its deal with ABC and ESPN is up in September. Bringing down the rhetoric, Clayton told investors that he didn't think the lawsuits would complicate negotiations because "greed prevails."
That could be wishful thinking. The networks are hopping mad. As for Speed, he may not see all that much airtime on Sunday. Since he began racing the No. 95 car, Speed has failed to finish 12 of 15 races, completing just 31 percent of his laps.