Ad Skipping, I Knew You When…

Mari Silbey —  August 19, 2009

TV Everywhere breakfast

The end of commercial skipping as we know it is near. You knew this was coming when Hulu became popular despite its few, but un-skippable ads. You knew it was coming when the Time Warner Cable Start Over service began making the rounds with the on-demand fast-forward function disabled. You knew it was around the corner when the MPAA started making a fuss about Selective Output Control (SOC) to block DVR recording on early-release HD movies. Sadly, you pretty much knew it was inevitable from the first blissful moment you used a DVR.

Yesterday, at a TV Everywhere breakfast event hosted by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable, CEO Quincy Smith of CBS Interactive mentioned the bugaboo of ad skipping in a throw-away comment at the end of the session. While most of the discussion centered on how to get TV Everywhere deployed, there was also some talk about why content owners and distributors should work to make it happen. There are lots of reasons, and everyone sees that the TV paradigm is shifting. But there’s also the convenient side benefit that making content available over IP also makes it a lot easier to block commercial skipping. In fact, if the advertising industry could figure a better way to quantify online TV advertising, we’d probably have an awful lot more premium TV content on the Internet today. There’s a lot of money to recoup from the fragmenting of audiences and decreasing TV ad spends.

In short, while TV Everywhere is going to be great for all of us – expanded availability of content we’ve already paid for – it’s not  going to come without some consumer disadvantages in the long run. Such is the way of the TV revolution, and the capitalist market.

Bonus pic: The most sought-after personality at yesterday’s well-attended event was Boxee founder Avner Ronen. He walked around in a Boxee t-shirt and was usually followed by a line of folks waiting to talk with him. I got a colleague to snap a pic of us after chatting briefly about his meeting Dave back at CES this year, and my congratulating him on the latest round of Boxee funding.

Boxee Avner Ronen Mari Silbey Zatz Not Funny

Bonus pic #2: Quincy Smith and MLB.com CEO Bob Bowman were quite the comedy act on stage. Knowledgeable and witty, they were a little lacking in the shoe department. Smith had only his raggedy, black-and-white camo sneakers, and Bowman, whose blurry foot you can see in the inset, entirely forgot socks to wear with his loafers. They might have hidden behind the table cubes, but chose take their lumps and laugh along with moderator Mark Robichaux instead. Also on stage was thePlatform VP Marty Roberts (an important part of the discussion) at right.

TV Everywhere breakfast shoes

8 responses to Ad Skipping, I Knew You When…

  1. selectplayselect30select

  2. This is exactly why Blade Runner and Demolition Man were dominated by product placement.

    Resistance is futile.

  3. Once you get used to watching TV without commercials there is no going back. If I was faced with the choice to either watch my favorite show with commercials or wait 6 months for the Blu-ray Disc, then I’ll happily wait 6 months.

    I don’t mind paying to watch my favorite shows, but my time is worth too much to me to watch a show with 25% advertisements.

  4. I can handle some commercials, but the amount on broadcast TV today is ridiculous. It’s time to reset.

  5. I’m with Ben – I watch most television on disc or VOD. Not only is it commercial free, I can hit an entire season in a couple of weeks. We just spent the last few watching Californication seasons 1 and 2. Getting caught up on Mad Men Season 2 next.

  6. I want my ReplayTv back!

  7. I’m watching 3 years of Heros back-to-back on my TiVo now.

    I don’t buy this premise. Consumers are used to ad-skipping. There will always be ways of getting around them.

    But, as targeted ads become more possible, the ads should get less annoying and the willingness of users to watch them as a trade off to free content will increase. Forcing me to watch tampon and geritol ads does nothing for the advertisers bottom line. I suspect there will be a happy medium for those wanting free TV in the future. For the rest there will be ad-skipping services or paid services. There will NEVER be a day when most people are forced to sit through 8 ads that are not targetted to them every 10 minutes as has been the recent history of broadcast television.

    …Dale

  8. I miss my ReplayTV too! Luckily FiOS TV still has a 30 second skip button…for now.