DISH Removes Commercials, Comcast Banks On Them


DISH Network continues to tempt fate (and the studio empire) given the introduction of automatic commercial skipping via their Hopper DVR and Joey extenders. If you recall, this new and highly regarded whole home solution features “Primetime Anytime” which records local prime time television programming (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) and retains this content 8 days. Those very same recordings, or perhaps a subset given the fine print, will now display the Hopper pink kangaroo icon a few hours after broadcast, indicating “Auto Hop” commercial skip is available.

DISH says Auto Hop is something we “consumers have been waiting for since the dawn of television.” Which isn’t entirely accurate… As we’ve only been waiting since Replay TV excised similar functionality (available on any channel/recording) under legal studio pressure. Will history repeat itself? Or, perhaps, DISH’s technical implementation and limited scope insulates them in some way. Regardless, it’s interesting to compare and contrast their customer-centric approach to the conflicted Comcast that just filed a patent application to inject onscreen advertising overlays when customers fast forward by commercials.

16 thoughts on “DISH Removes Commercials, Comcast Banks On Them”

  1. By the by, I wonder if TiVo might have already patented something like this before as I seem to recall they tried the ad overlays during ffwd at one point.

  2. I did not see this one coming. Pretty bold move by Dish considering that the TV companies are the ones selling them the programming. Not only will it be interesting to see if they get sued, but it will also be interesting to see how their retransmission agreements end up going. Hopefully, they expand this beyond 8 days though because I usually 2 or 3 months behind.

  3. You can move any Prime Time Anytime show to your own user partition (The PTAT stuff is stored on its own partition) and then you can save your favorite shows as long as you want.

    The User partition was increased two weeks ago from 500GB to 1TB! Plus using an external USB hard drive you can build a complete library of everything you watch.

  4. Scott,

    Yes but since they don’t actually remove the ads, unless the memory of where the ads are stays with the show (which it may not given how the implementation is described), then you won’t have the hopper feature on shows you save.


    Yeah I’m kind of blown away by this as well. I mean nobody offers this, even third party DVRs that don’t have to negotiate with the studios.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if somebody like ABC pulled a breach of contract and told Dish to stop distributing their signal until the feature is dropped.

    Of course if Aereo wins in court that they don’t need a retransmission agreement for over the air channels, then this come out quite differently, or at least they’d have more of a leg to stand on…

  5. Scott, if you move a recording out of Primetime Anytime for permanent storage do you lose the commercial advance?

    Glenn, the Aereo thing will be interesting. Most folks who’ve gone down this path before haven’t been as well funded for a defense (or offense as the case may be) or utilized this particular method of retransmission. I still don’t see them prevailing, but we shall see.

    Regarding, DISH they already have an interesting (legal) history with the locals and retransmission. I assume, like you, this will indeed also end up contested in some way.

  6. Here’s hoping directv is scared silly by Dish stepping up the innovative ideas. I’d love to have this type of dummy-free access to network shows for 8 days.

  7. I don’t know. I hate commercials as much as the next guy, but if this feature holds up, the networks will be forced to simply incorporate MORE in show advertising. Like MANY more ad placements, and those already annoying ad bugs in (what used to be) tiny corner of the screen. They can’t broadcast without ad revenue that’s for sure.

    So is it better to fast forward through commercials or have your favorite shows infiltrated with advertising you can’t even fast forward through?

    Also, to nitpik, you can’t “temp” fate, but you can “tempt” it.

  8. “NBC is already objecting, saying Auto Hop is “an attack on our ecosystem.” The plot thickens…”

    What’s NBC’s recourse? Stop letting DISH have their content?

    (Dunno if some kind of must-carry rule prevents that, or if that is obsolete.)

  9. I just returned home from DISH Networks Team Summit event in Orlando and for the first time I have ben able to actually sit down and use (and enjoy) autohop on my Hopper system.

    On the shows I watched I did see a few seconds of the first commercial, but the rest was nice and clean. It a great advance in television watching. It does not seem to remove the show ads such as “CSI Miami is being brought to you tonight by Buick.” and also it does not get rid of the ads after the show ends.

    It will be interesting in seeing what NBC says about it. I understand the networks were notified about it before it was announced and none of them said anything.

  10. Has “must carry” ever applied to Satellite? I thought until the last few years you had to lie about your antenna reception to get a Satellite company to give you locals in the first place.

    Like Chucky I’m quite confused by the state of the current “must carry” rule. Now that the local channels demand significant fees for their “must carry” channels does that change their must carry status? Is the 1992 Cable Television Protection and Competition Act still in place?

  11. I asked upthread:

    “What’s NBC’s recourse? Stop letting DISH have their content?”

    From the NYTimes today, seems like I have some answers.

    “At least one of the network owners, News Corporation, is no longer accepting Dish’s new DVR ads on any of its television properties. It and several other owners are examining whether they can sue Dish, the same way they sued a maker of DVRs a decade ago”


    “Mr. McQuivey said, “In the end, the real power of the networks comes in their distribution deals. If Dish doesn’t play nice, Dish will find it impossible to renew those deals when they’re up.”

    Seems about right to me. Hard to see this not ending up in tears for DISH, unless I’m missing something. Manual comskip is something the content companies are sensibly willing to live with. Easy-to-use, mass-deployed automatic comskip is something I’d refuse to live with if I ran a content company.

  12. The only way we’ll get the sort of commercial skip we want is if a company not beholden to or part of the system builds it. We need someone like Channel Master to take up the torch.

  13. “The only way we’ll get the sort of commercial skip we want is if a company not beholden to or part of the system builds it.”

    Well, if you really want auto-comskip, can’t you run WMC with some commercial software add-on to accomplish the task?

    I actually don’t want a mass-deployed auto-comskip thing out there. Content companies need to be funded, or else the content dries up. And if a determined fringe want to run WMC with some kind of hack, that’s still all good, since it’s only a fringe. It just shouldn’t be easy enough for the ‘normals’, IMHO.

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