Will The Commercial-Skipping Train Pick Up Steam?

Remember how Dish Network’s Hopper lets its customers skip -- in mass -- prime-time commercials from the four broadcast networks?

Other companies, like Apple, could be looking to make hay in this area. But, a year and half after saying it was still working on ad-skipping technology, Apple has had no recent updates.

Broadcast networks continue to fight Dish, arguing that allowing consumers to skip commercials violates programming contracts. Courts have ruled on both sides of the issue since Dish introduced the Hopper’s AutoHop feature in 2012.

A recent U.S. District Court decision favored Dish. But Judge Dolly Gee said Fox, the plaintiff, may have a claim for breach of contract over some of Dish’s functions -- including its offering of Fox content via video-on-demand.

Indeed, network executives are hopeful about video-on-demand because it disables fast-forwarding capabilities so that commercials can’t be skipped.  The good news for consumers is that VOD commercial pod loads are currently briefer than the pods encountered in DVR time-shifting.



With the networks’ VOD business growing, however, they have the opportunity to amass bigger revenues via ad sales.  Will that provide fertile ground for new kinds of questionably legal, commercial-skipping technology?

If research shows that networks aren’t being hurt when enhanced commercial avoidance capabilities are added to long-existing remote control fast-forwarding, you can expect more companies to climb aboard the commercial-skipping train.

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