Dish expanding offline DVR viewing to iOS, Android apps

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TV junkies can soon get their fix from an airplane or in the middle of nowhere using Dish Network’s iOS and Android apps.

An update to the Dish Anywhere mobile app will integrate Transfers functionality, letting users store DVR shows for offline viewing. The Transfers feature was previously a standalone app for the iPad only.

Transferring DVR content requires some jumping through hoops. Users must first pair the phone or tablet with a Dish Hopper TV box, then use the television to select which shows to send over. Once the user sends a show to a phone or tablet, it stops being available on the television’s DVR. Users then have 30 days to watch before the content expires, unless they re-launch the app on their local Wi-Fi network.

Still, if you can remember to transfer some DVR content before you leave home, it could be a useful way to catch up on movies or shows during a long flight. As with before, the Dish Anywhere app also lets you watch live, recorded, and on-demand television with an Internet connection.

Dish Network isn’t the first TV provider to allow offline viewing on mobile devices. Comcast’s Xfinity TV Go app lets users to download movies from sources such as Showtime, Streampix, Starz, and Encore. But unless you subscribe to those premium movie channels, Comcast’s download capabilities are worthless. The app doesn’t let users transfer DVR content, as Dish does. (Owners of newer TiVo hardware, however, can download Comcast or other content to their iOS devices for offline viewing.)

Outside of the major pay TV providers, some streaming video services are starting to dabble with offline viewing. Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service allows users to download select movies and shows on Kindle Fire tablets, and YouTube has promised offline viewing in its mobile apps starting this month. Netflix does not allow offline viewing, though there are legally questionable workarounds. From a content licensing angle, offline video is still tricky terrain for TV providers to navigate, which may explain why Dish’s Transfers functionality is a bit of a hassle.

Dish hasn’t actually released the update for its app yet, but a press release says the update will arrive “by the end of the year.”

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