Commercial Skipping Has Tougher Battles To Come

TV’s commercial-skipping battle is still brewing. In fact, it's getting more intense.

Technology companies continue to come up with ways to skip commercials, like Dish Network's Hopper set-top box. At the same time, media content companies push their shows and movies onto technology platforms like Hulu and video-on-demand (VOD) services where consumers can't skip advertiser messaging.

VOD is key since it gets counted in the Nielsen C3 rating system -- commercial ratings plus three days of time-shifting viewing – which is the currency currently used by advertisers to pay networks.

CBS and others are touting VOD as a potential big player. CBS -- maybe more than other media companies -- has a lot to protect. Though the company as a whole has lessened its dependence on advertising, it still represents a key piece of revenues.



That’s why CBS put the kibosh on a possible top award that journalists at its CNET unit were going to give Dish's new version of Hopper. CBS says it stopped the effort because it is in litigation with Dish. But that's not good enough. There's journalism; there's commerce. And there should be a wall. But I digress.

Right now, networks are emboldened by new technologies that create consumer behavior. They know consumers can’t skip commercials on ad-supported digital players and platforms like Hulu, and on VOD services pushed by big cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner.

Dish believes it is on the right side because most existing basic DVR technology permits fast-forwarding, which allows consumers to zip past commercials. Dish's automated AutoHop feature just makes that easier.

CBS believes you can't change the rules. It says Dish has contracts with its stations using a specific set-top technology and shouldn't be allowed to drastically alter the network’s content presented to consumers.

There have been other issues. Cable operators have toyed with the idea of "network DVRs" -- a technology that can store consumers’ content in cloud-like services. 

Will that activity ever start up?

In the world of over-the-top TV services like Aereo -- which has been allowed to go ahead with its service in some cities – one wonders whether other technology is coming, stuff that will also slip through the cracks of the traditional TV ecosystem.

2 comments about "Commercial Skipping Has Tougher Battles To Come".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, January 16, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.

    Dish does not require its subscribers to use the Hopper to avoid commercials, so it's the subscribers' choice. What's wrong with freedom? The manufacturers of remote controls include a MUTE button, with which viewers can choose to avoid hearing commercials, or not. Is that not messing with "the rules"?

  2. brian riker from A. Eicoff and Company, January 16, 2013 at 4:02 p.m.

    Change as always "is a coming", more of an issue though for brand advertisers on television. Those who use DRTV as a media strategy have largely skirted the affect of DVR technology and its fast forward features by steering clear of higher profile "appointment viewing" programs and finding the casual viewer in non-prime but still highly viewed dayparts.

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