Tablo OTA DVR To Automatically Skip Commercials

Nice! Come March, Tablo DVR owners will be able to automatically skip commercials while playing back television recordings. Unlike TiVo’s somewhat kneecapped SkipMode that only indexes popular, primetime programming and requires manual intervention at each break, Tablo’s solution should index just about everything* and will be automated:

Tablo’s commercial-skipping magic is a cloud-based hybrid of digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms and machine learning. When enabled, pesky ads are accurately and automatically detected so Tablo apps on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV can hop right past them.

A HDHomeRun paired with the Channels DVR service also provides OTA comskip, but I need to review their implementation. Having said that, we do know Channels requires additional hardware and is available to fewer clients (like Roku).

*In talking to the folks behind Tablo, it seems news programming has been particularly difficult to programatically identify given the numerous cuts… and presumably local news is doubly challenging given less predictable breaks. As such, news will be excluded. But all our important serial programming should be routinely and properly tagged.

10 thoughts on “Tablo OTA DVR To Automatically Skip Commercials”

  1. As I understand it, skipping commercials has a degree of risk involved. If you skip ONLY the commercial, you’re okay. But if even a few seconds of the TV show is accidentally clipped, it’s a copyright concern, and will bring the legal wrath of the TV gods down on you. That’s why TiVo does it the way they do it. If Tablo screws up, are they inviting a legal challenge?

  2. Well… I’m not a copyright lawyer. But I doubt they’re big enough to matter at this point for any sort of infraction as the studio/network system has bigger fish to fry. Having said that, they’re utilizing to same approach the DISH Hopper does (did?) in making the local viewer/owner choose to automatically skip the commercials for the following content – from what I recall, that changes the onus/responsibility and we’d be within our rights to make the attempt.

  3. So, if memory serves it’s how the skip is implemented. If it cus it out automatically it’s a copyright issue, if it just flags the skippable area, which Tivo does, I think it’s fine.

  4. Any Tivo news from CES 2019? All I’ve seen so far is their deal with Verizon for data sharing or something.

  5. Even on TiVo, I’ve had shows where the SkipMode markers were in the wrong place and clipped content from shows. No system is 100%.

  6. SageTV automatically skips commercials with no user action required, even for shows that are still in the process of being recorded. That’s what makes it so difficult for me to switch to any other solution. Other DVRS have a nicer UI, but they make me do tricks to skip commercials. My dog won’t do any tricks. I’ll follow his lead when it comes to my DVR.

  7. And to be clear, I was talking about the Channels DVR requiring the user to click a button to skip the commercials that it knows are there. Just like TiVo. I think you’re saying Tablo is the same.

  8. Ok, as I understand it, it is the MVPD’s (and VMVPD’s) who have the risk of copyright violation if any part of the programming is clipped because MVPD’s, et al. are bound by their re-tranmissions contracts. Retransmission of a channel service by a 3rd party is a separate beast that requires payment or consent.

    On the other hand, the Tablo, Amazon Recast, TiVo model is about consumers receiving their TV signals dirctly into their home using the consumers own OTA antenna, and once received, consumers have Fair Use to record, copy, playback and store forever so long as those recordings are on LOCAL STORAGE–meaning within your private residence, which includes, but NOT limited to DVR’s like TiVo, Dish, DirecTV, and Cable TV Companies that save the recordings on the built-in or external HDD, or recordings saved on WHATEVER medium (old fashioned tape or HDD’s) SO LONG AS IT IS IN YOUR PRIVATE LOCATION such as your domicile. Since Tablo, TiVo, Amazon Recast DO NOT provide the OTA signal as part of a retransmission agreement, there is no LEGAL consequence if those devices clip content that has a copyright. Further, one can even use a Slingbox (or other similar products) to send that signal or recorded content to a remote location as long as it for PERSONAL and PRIVATE use, and it is NOT sent to the remote location IN THE CLEAR. Encrypting the stream is one way to keep it legal.

    In a 9th Cuircut Court ruling upholding the trial judge’s decision NOT to grant a preliminary injunction against Dish AutoHop, one of the many reasons stated by the 9th was that the broadcasters DO NOT OWN the copyrights to the commercials. It was an interesting ruling because it made it pretty clear the broadcasters were gonna lose. The 9th would cite, then undercut, every point the broadcasters put forward. Eventually, all the broadcasters dropped their suits against Dish and moved on.

    BTW, some VCR’s (some Panasonic and JVC models off the top if my head) in the late 1990’s had a Commercial Advance feature that would skip through commercials at playback. I had a few of these CA VCR’s and they worked very well at “Advancing” through the commercials.

    Tablo, TiVo, Recast, et al. can clip the copyright content and not face any legal consequence, which explains why Channels can take the risk of using automation to mark the point, while Dish simply can’t take the chance of violating the retransmission agreement, so Dish relies on a very small group of humans to make certain the only skip the commercial

  9. I just want to clarify that signsls from MVPD’S coming into private homes also come under Fair Use, and that Cable Cos can store a subscriber’s commanded recording to a “PERSONAL” portion of the MSO’s servers that, when played back and streamed to the suscriber’s domicile, also comes under Fair Use. However, VirtualMVPD’S and their subscribers have no rights to offer “Cloud DVR” services without the consent of the content channel provider. Therefore, VMVPD’s usually must pay the content channel provider in order for the VMVPD to offer “cloud DVR” services to its subscribers, and every DVR attribute must be negotiated such as how long a recording is allowed to remain accessible to the subscribrt.

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