While digging through the US patent website, I noticed that IBM has filed an application to place non-skippable DVD commercial advertisements. It’s hard for to believe that there isn’t prior art for this already but, according to the application, commercials can either be updated via the internet or they can be embedded directly on the disc:
A method wherein contents of DVDs may be restricted based upon purchased certificates is provided. The certificates allow for secured information on playback. Specifically, whenever a DVD is to be played, a certificate is consulted to determine whether the content of the DVD should be played with or without commercial interruptions. If the certificates provide for commercial interruptions, then commercials can be obtained from an online service that renders commercials on demand, or from the DVD itself. In such a case, the content of the DVD may be interspersed with commercials.
I’m usually a fan of new DVD technology, but I’ve got mixed feelings about this one. Every now and then, I’ll come across a DVD that won’t let me skip past the previews and it drives me absolutely nuts. If I’ve already paid for my content, then should I be forced to watch advertisements? It makes me feel like the studios are double dipping.
On the other hand, I could see plenty of advantages in ad- upported DVDs. There are lots people who aren’t willing to pay money to watch a DVD. If they can catch up on a series by dealing with the ads, then this technology could introduce time shifting to an entirely new audience. It could also open up new distribution channels to content providers. For example, if McDonalds included ad supported Disney flicks into their Happy Meals, I wager that they’d reach more viewers than Friday nights on ABC.
With advertisers already scared to death of the ad skipping powers of the DVR, I could see studios adopting this as a way of shoring up advertising revenue. I’m certain that the TV producers would prefer live viewers. But if a consumer ends up watching the ads eventually, then why should it matter when they see the program?
One of the more interesting components of the IBM application is the Internet-delivered advertising focus. Whenever I’ve been forced to watch previews on DVDs, it’s typically been for movies that were released a long time ago. While the previews may have been relevant seven years ago, they seem a little outdated today. I don’t think that the free DVD consumer market is going to have the latest internet connected DVD players, but I still found it interesting that IBM is working on solving this problem.
I don’t see this patent making it all the way through the application process, but I do expect that we’ll see more of these types of advertisements in the future. The optimist in me would love to see this technology used to reach new consumers. But, my inner cynic knows the studios would rather unleash ads on paying viewers than risk cannibalizing their precious DVD. I don’t fully understand IBM’s motives for filing the patent, but it’s an interesting solution for bringing entertainment to the masses.
Davis Freeberg is a technology enthusiast living in the Bay Area. He enjoys writing about movies, music, and the impact that digital technology is having on traditional media. Read more at Davis Freeberg’s Digital Connection.