Tablo Commercial Skip Exits Beta With $2 Monthly Fee

I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. Assuming you’ve read the headline, you already know one of our favorite OTA DVR offerings will be making commercial skip available for $2/mo (or $20/yr) as part of a new “Tablo Premium” service.

In order to generate the Automatic Commercial Skip playlists, each Tablo OTA DVR device with Commercial Skip Detection enabled sends metadata for every single eligible recording to our cloud servers for processing. Tablo Automatic Commercial Skip ProcessThis requires significant cloud computing resources as well as ongoing development and maintenance of the advanced machine learning systems and DSP algorithms that make this feature tick. […] To avoid raising the base TV Guide Data Subscription price for everyone, we have instead chosen to move Automatic Commercial Skip into a new, and optional, Tablo Premium Service add-on starting February 6, 2020.

By comparison, Channels DVR using HDHomeRun includes commercial skip (of all programming)… bundled within the existing, slightly higher monthly fees. TiVo provides more limited commercial skip content but also requires higher fees than Tablo and, ironically, sullies recordings with pre-roll advertisements as part of their revenue model.

The good news is that the Tablo commercial skip feature is obviously mature, ready to go and will be making its way to additional platforms, including the iOS, Android, and web players once it exits beta next month. Also, given the broad branding of “Tablo Premium,” I wonder what other sorts of goodies they may roll out in the future.


9 thoughts on “Tablo Commercial Skip Exits Beta With $2 Monthly Fee”

  1. I’ve got a Silicondust Quatro. It appears to be a much more open platform than the Tablo. I don’t see an advantage with the Tablo unless it’s the lifetime guide pricing.
    I use the Channels DVR server and apps. It provides an OTT integrated guide using TVE and includes commercial skipping for a total of $80 per year ($6.67 per month).

  2. I was excited when Tablo announced the public beta for their cloud based commercial skip feature, however at the start I knew that it might not work perfectly. I hoped that they would be able to tune their algorithms over time to make it a useful feature. Unfortunately, I regret to say that my family’s experience with this has not been good.

    Our experience is that even now there are too many false positives, where their algorithms incorrectly identify a portion of a recording to be a commercial. The result is that when you’re watching that program, it skips ahead and you end up missing part of the program (usually right after a legitimate commercial). Viewers may not realize that they missed something until later in the program, when something in the plot doesn’t make sense, or they may miss the last minute or two of the program.

    As a “free” feature that sometimes works we have been willing to deal with this aggravation, but at this point I don’t believe that it’s ready to exit the public beta. We will not be subscribing to this premium feature.

    Just my two cents.

  3. dwgsp, thanks for the first hand account. I only tested it in limited fashion. I know the ad skip solutions are all imperfect. TiVo has been pretty good in my experience, but primarily indexes prime time shows on popular channels and occasionally misses even some of those.

  4. Once again, PLEX for the win. Free commercial skip, a fantastic free guide, and excellent meta data scraping / TV season packaging – all integrated into the rest of my streaming world.

  5. I remember back in the late 90s having a ProScan VCR that featured commercial skip. After recording a show, it went through the recording and “marked” commercials. I recall it working very well, even for live events, like sports. While I was younger, and didn’t care about the technology behind it, I assume it had to do with tags included in the analog broadcasts, but regardless, it worked, and I loved it enough to buy another. I still have one of the VCRs in my closet, and the last time I hooked it up (about 10 years ago, I think), it still worked.

    Ah, technology….

  6. Last I heard Tivo had people who marked commericials, not AI or a script. That’s why they’re pretty much spot on. I’ve found that Channels commercial skip is terrible. Way too many false positives

  7. Pete, in my experience TiVo has also been the most accurate over the years and various solutions. I was under the impression it’s something of a hybrid solution of technology and staff. However, they tag fewer shows and, like I mentioned, there are sometimes episode gaps.

  8. I bought the Tablo because I was looking to cut the cord on Dish and needed a DVR for my locals. My initial research indicated Tablo had commercial skip, but I failed to realize this was limited to beta until after purchase. Having used this extensively for 3 months now, I can honestly say I am extremely disappointed with the performance at the time they made this decision, and the way it was handled for existing customers.
    Performance: server glitches recently created failures in uploading since this is a cloud process, sportings events fail more often than they succeed in uploading, shows fail randomly with no explainable case, and the time lag can be significant based on the number of tuners and availability if you record a lot.
    Customers: I bought the unit and a 12 month guide package 3 months ago based on this feature. Rather than grandfather in existing customers with advance notice of charges upon renewal, all of my existing recordings lost their commercial skip and I was informed I would now have to pay a premium even though the performance issues meant I would pay for something still being developed or not know when it finally reached maturity otherwise. This could have been handled better for the faithful.
    The timing with the lack of maturity and suddenness raise questions on the real reasons behind the change, and I’m exploring options more closely before paying for any premiums.

  9. Seems a bit fraudulent to sell me lifetime guide using commercial skip as a feature to sell it. Then, after paying for the service, they break off a piece of it and want more money to keep something they already sold me.

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