"The Big Bang Theory" star Kaley Cuoco doesn't mind making a few extra dollars endorsing products. Tweeting an ad to her 1.2 million Twitter followers is an easy way to pick up some spare change. Just as long as she isn't tweeting at Dish Network's behest about its ad-skipping Hopper DVR.
As first reported by The Wrap, Cuoco, or her representatives, deleted the following tweet after The Wrap inquired about it: "Amazing! Watching live TV anywhere on the #Hopper looks pretty awesome! Now where can I find a tiny beer? #ad."
Dish representatives claim that Cuoco's tweet generated thousands of clicks from her followers to an informational site about the Dish product. "We felt Kaley was a good match for our brand and that her fans represented our customers and potential customers who would be interested in the benefits of Hopper," a Dish spokesperson told CNET in an email.
With the sponsored tweet touting the Dish Hopper, Cuoco got caught in the middle of a bitter, prolonged battle between CBS, which airs "The Big Bang Theory," and Dish, which offers a product that CBS (the parent company of CNET) and the other broadcast networks believe is illegal. The Dish Hopper features AutoHop, which allows users to automatically skip over ads on recorded programming. The networks contend that Dish doesn't have the right to tamper with advertising from broadcast replays for its own economic and commercial advantage. The lawsuits brought by CBS, Fox (News Corp.), NBC (Comcast), and ABC (Disney) so far have not stopped Dish from selling the Hopper, which the company says is in 2 million homes.
In a press release, Dish CEO Joe Clayton accused CBS of demanding that the sitcom star remove the tweet: "Clearly, with this kind of response, consumers have a true interest in the types of innovations the DISH Hopper offers. It's a shame that CBS, despite its legacy, feels it needs to thwart this kind of consumer demand."
A CBS spokesperson denied the accusation: "Once again, Joe Clayton demonstrates his dubious gift for hyperbole and hucksterism. No demands were made, but it's clear that Dish's culture of fabrication is alive and well."
Cuoco so far has not addressed the question of why the Dish paid endorsement tweet was deleted. She may have come to the sudden realization that the sponsored tweet hit a sensitive nerve at CBS.
The Cuoco tweet delete comes on the heels of CBS' decision to have CNET disqualify the Dish Hopper with Sling as the winner of the Best of CES award at the Consumer Electronics Show in January due to the parent company's ongoing litigation with Dish over the AutoHop technology.
In another bit of Dish guerrilla marketing Dish sponsored a car driven by Scott Speed in Sunday's Daytona 500 to get around the ban by the TV networks on advertising the Hopper product on their airwaves. The race was broadcast on the Fox network.
Last week, Fox Broadcasting amended its original lawsuit against Dish, asking the court to stop sales of the just-released Dish Hopper with Sling, which lets users watch programming on the go, over the Internet, and on mobile devices via its place-shifting Sling technology. A hearing is slated for March 22 to address Fox's amended claim.