Good news for Dish Network subscribers: Your set-top DVR will keep collecting missed episodes of "Mad Men" and "American Idol" under terms of a $500 million settlement announced today between the satellite TV provider and TiVo Inc.
TiVo has won every round in court since it first filed suit against Dish Network and sister company EchoStar in 2004, saying Dish had copied elements of TiVo's Time Warp recording technology.
Things looked really grim for Dish's DVR-loving customers last year after a federal appeals court ordered Dish Network to disable DVR service and pay $90 million plus royalties. Dish will pay Tivo half a billion dollars to preserve customers' ability to record "Seinfeld" and SportsCenter for later viewing.
The ginormous tab is an indication of how important DVR has become in the television universe, where "TiVo" is already a verb. And it provides a glimpse of what Dish may do with Blockbuster Video, which it bought out of bankruptcy last month.
In announcing the settlement, the companies said that TiVo will play a role in developing and promoting the Blockbuster digital video service and other "exciting strategic initiatives." This will all supposedly coordinate somehow in what Dish founder and CEO Charlie Ergen described as "the Seinfeld strategy."
Asked for details on the earnings call, Ergen said this: "I would say that we're utilizing what I call the Seinfeld strategy, which is if you ever watched a Seinfeld show there's a lot of things that happen the first about 28 minutes of the show where you didn't know exactly where that show was going but it seemed to all come together in that last couple minutes ... of course Seinfeld was a show about nothing so it could be a strategy about nothing if you're skeptical, but I think that everything we do has a purpose and we feel like it ultimately fits together."
As Jerry himself would say, "Ohhhhh-kaaaay."