Dish banks on magic and kangaroos named Hopper and Joey for turnaround

After losing 111,000 subscribers during the third quarter, Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) unveiled a new multiroom DVR and kangaroo corporate mascot that company executives hope will help return the satellite TV provider to growth.

Dish Network Hopper and Joey

Top: the Hopper DVR. Bottom: the Joey digital receiver.

The centerpiece of new products Dish touted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Monday was a DVR it calls Hopper, which contains three tuners capable of recording up to six programs simultaneously, including one tuner dedicated to recording every primetime show on the Big Four broadcast networks. Dish CEO Joseph Clayton repeatedly referred to the set-top's capabilities as "magic."

Accompanying the Hopper DVR are small digital set-tops nicknamed Joey, which can access programming from the Hopper from any room in a house. 

Clayton took the wraps off of a new corporate logo for Dish which contains a kangaroo based on its Hopper and Joey products. The company also brought a live kangaroo to its press conference in Las Vegas. But the animal, which was carried by its handler in a bag containing a Dish logo, wasn't very cooperative, as you can see in this video. 

The hopper contains a 2 terabyte hard drive that is capable of recording up to 250 hours of HD programming or 1,000 hours of standard-definition programming. It offers the same storage capacity as the TiVo Premiere Elite DVR. The most unique feature of the device is a function that a subscriber must activate which will set it to record up to eight days of primetime programming from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. "We call this bit of magic Primetime Anytime," Clayton said.

Dish corporate sibling EchoStar built the Hopper and DVR set-tops. One of the tuners in the Hopper is dedicated to the Primetime Anytime service.

Clayton also detailed a new "Dish Unplugged" feature which will allow subscribers that don't have broadband access to receive TV shows and movies from its Blockbuster @Home service delivered to their DVRs via satellite. And subscribers that take its America's Top 120 package or a more expensive tier will get access to 73 SiriusXM channels.

While Dish is pursuing a unique branding and marketing strategy with its Hopper and Joey products, its cable and satellite rivals already offer access to most of the content and multiroom DVR options that Dish is offering. Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) and other providers market broad packages of on-demand programming to subscribers. And Time Warner Cable offers subscribers without DVRs access to more than 20,000 TV shows through its StartOver feature, which lets subscribers that miss the beginning of shows on dozens of networks to play the programs from the beginning.

For more:
- see the news release

Special Report: CES 2012: In-depth coverage

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