Dish Tweaks Ad-Skipping DVR Service To Be More Broadcaster-Friendly

Back when Dish Network first released its AutoHop ad-skipping DVR feature, the service automatically recorded prime-time network broadcasts so that viewers could watch all their favorite NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox shows at a later date without having to fast-forward through commercial breaks. But now that Dish has been sued by those same broadcasters, AutoHop is slightly less “auto.”

According to Variety, two recent AutoHop tweaks seem to be concessions to litigious broadcasters:

• Rather than default to recording all broadcast networks, users select which ones to record.

• Now, when users are given the option to skip ads, the default is set to “no,” instead of “yes.”

The broadcaster lawsuits against Dish allege that the satellite provider is violating copyright law by editing broadcasters’ content when it processes recorded content to remove commercials.

Some networks have responded to the AutoHop by refusing to accept ads for Dish.

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  1. dush says:

    Dish ruined their arguement by not having autohop available on all channels. Why just the broadcast ones Dish?
    And their ads don’t mention anything about it only being a few channels that autohop works with. 2 year contract required of course.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      ” Why just the broadcast ones Dish?”

      Because I think their terms and such are totally different for basically forwarding what’s already freely accessible via OTA. I wonder if Dish makes any money at all from advertising on OTA channels…

    • esc27 says:

      “Why just the broadcast ones Dish?”
      Because those are the only channels giving their content away for free to anyone with an antenna, then charging Dish an increasingly large fee for the same content.

  2. H3ion says:

    It may be pretty low tech, but there’s a fast forward button on my remote. I don’t remember the last time I watched a commercial.

    • frank64 says:

      That is why I thought Dish was making a mistake by fighting this battle. We don’t have to do much to fast forward commercials, but that we have to do it manually keeps the possibility or at least the fiction that we may see them. This pays the bills and keep the stations in business.

      I think they should reduce the amount of commercials so that we don’t mind them as much, we skip less and the advertisers pay more due to the increased value.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Ultimately I believe that program-break commercials will have to go the way of the dinosaur, and everything will become in-program promotion, like the original days of live TV.

        You can see this in programs like NCIS and NCIS: LA, where they conspicuously drive Chrysler vehicles and have laptops with Windows logos on the lids. Which always drives me nuts, because of course Microsoft doesn’t actually make computers…hence there are no laptops with Windows logos on their lids. But…that’s what we’re talking about.

        You can’t fast-forward away from those in-program product positioning things. And when done tastefully and unobtrusively, it works well.

        • nybiker says:

          @frank64, You are absolutely correct. Go back to 5 minutes per 30-minute block and 10 for the 60 and I will not mind the breaks. I also want all on-screen text gone (including the logos) and no more sniping at the bottom. I know that those things will never happen, so we are all stuck looking for ways to maximize our viewing efficiency (hence the FF through the ads and, as I also do now, wait for Netflix Streaming).

          @YouDidWhatNow?, You too are correct. The product placement though is not gonig to get me to watch a show or to buy their product. What it does do, is annoy the hell out of me, just as the it does you. I’ve been watching Eureka via Netflix streaming, and in later seasons, there are blatant product placements for candy & cars and deodorant. The low point was when a character mentions the car’s maker by name. The town is a fictitious town, why does it need real brands of candy and other stuff. I guess the car maker didn’t do so well, as in season 5 the end credits indicate promotional consideration by a different car maker.

          • frank64 says:

            I think a cycle thing developed where the studios/actors/directors kept on making more and more money. Some have made 1 million and episode and 100′s of thousands is not uncommon. The increased costs was a reason stated for more commercials.

            If they reduced the commercials, to what people will accept, then the actors studios/talent get paid based on that, they will still be living the dream, but a broken system might get fixed. Probably too late for that though.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          the glades recently made fun of their own in program car commercials by having the line “you sound like a car commercial”
          it’s really annoying. i’d rather have real commercials than in program sponsorship. or do it the way toyota does with warehouse 13 and just create short form original programming that clearly states it’s a prius commercial with a storyline

  3. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    In the end it doesn’t matter. It never mattered and it never will matter.

    In the olden days when you actually had to get up off your fat ass and walk to the TV to change channels, people skipped commercials by going to the bathroom, getting a drink from the fridge, letting the dog out/in, or if all else fails, chatting with whoever else happened to be in the room. You didn’t just sit there cataleptically and watch the commercials.

    When VCRs hit the stage, people used them to record TV, and then they could fast-forward through the commercials in the event that they didn’t need to get up and do anything, or didn’t want to engage in idle banter with whoever else happened to be in the room. The right to do so was held up in court.

    Nothing is different from that point forward, regardless of the device or method in question. Autohop on or off by default doesn’t matter. Automatically record all networks or not doesn’t matter. Nothing matters – the end result will always, in all cases, be the same – people will skip commercials. The device and method used to do so is utterly irrelevant.

    • Cranky Owl says:

      So basically the entire tv advertising industry is kept alive by everybody involved pretending ads work. Without that fiction, advertising agencies, Nielsen & tv networks wouldn’t exist.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        In large part, yes. Think of yourself as an example…do *you* sit there and diligently watch the commercials when they show up in the middle of your TV show, or do you change the channel/get a drink/fast forward with your DVR/whatever?

        …and then recognize that pretty much everyone else in the world does whatever they can to avoid just sitting and watching commercials too.

        When Nielsen says something like “10,000,000 people watched Mythbusters last night” the advertisers want to believe they had 20 million eyeballs on their commercials…when the reality is that it was, and I’m making this up, something more like 1% of that number. If that.

        • frank64 says:

          The choice for me isn’t fast forward the commercials or not. The choice is fast forward or not watch the show. The breaks are too many to make watching a show enjoyable. Hulu right now has a tolerable amount. They increase the commercials to more though and I will stop using Hulu. Right now I use Amazon Prime for streaming, but also there is Netflix for $8 that has no commercials. Really worth it, I also like not having to wait for a week or more between episodes, and I have found some great shows there.

          Paying 8 dollars for a months worth of streaming isn’t a model that works as a whole though because it seems it only works for the studios after they make full price somehow. It is the equivalent of getting the paperback book. We still need someone to buy the hardcover.

          • thomwithanh says:

            I can’t remember where, but I read that Hulu’s business plan is eventually to carry a “full commercial load”, instead of the two 30 second spots we have now, it’ll be just like TV.

      • akronharry says:

        Yes

      • padarjohn says:

        The idea that everybody has to watch all of the commercials for them to be effective, and that ad-skipping technology breaks the system, is a myth.

        Do you read every ad in a newspaper or magazine? Generally you only look at the ones that do something to catch your attention and that you find interesting. The same thing applies to DVRs, etc. I liked the the option DirecTV had to fast-forward 30 seconds instead of just skipping, because if I saw a commercial zipping past that looked interesting I could go back and watch it. And I often did – a lot of times the commercials are more interesting than the shows, which is a sad commentary on the state of TV in general.

        • frank64 says:

          That is very true. One reason why what Dish’s commercial skip is different than what we do. I end up watching some commercials for a multitude of reasons. I also think commercials do work or advertisers wouldn’t pay for them. They are working less though, and advertisers are cutting back and probably will more in the future. They would have really cut back if the Dish technology was in use.

          • YouDidWhatNow? says:

            “I also think commercials do work or advertisers wouldn’t pay for them.”

            Oh, people pay for lots of stuff that doesn’t work. Astrology, homeopathy, religion, magnet therapy, alternative medicines, so on and so forth.

  4. AzCatz07 says:

    I don’t have Dish, but my DirecTV remote has a 30-second skip button. I hit that about 5 times, and it usually is enough to miss the commercials.

    • Rexy does not like the new system says:

      I’ve become a master of the 4x fast forward. It takes time to nail down, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s ~5 or so seconds to skip past all of the commercials.

      • AzCatz07 says:

        I think you’re right. For some reason, my gf struggles with it. She prefers to just use the regular fast forward button. I think she doesn’t hit the 30 second button quickly enough or something.

  5. DaveInBillsburg says:

    Seems like a good compromise. Now they just have to develop come Dish commercials with that family about yelling about setting the skip ads on the Hawpa!

  6. chargernj says:

    How is this a copyright issue? Commercials are not part of the program.

    • 180CS says:

      You would be surprised :/

      Since Dish isn’t the broadcaster, but only the content delivery mechanism, they don’t exactly have a right to alter the content of the broadcast. They compile the show, with commercial breaks, and add the commercials in themselves. Their revenue to create the shows comes from people buying commercial airtime, which only has value if people are actually watching/hearing the commercials. If they change the content that you’re given in a way that hurts the producer…I can see how they are trying to make this claim.

      • chargernj says:

        So by that logic, every time a show is rerun with a new batch of commercials, it’s a “new” show?

  7. 180CS says:

    Dish? Fast forward buttons? Adds?

    What Adds? I’ve been using Hulu/Netflix/’other sources’ on my media center for years. No cable bill, no commercials, and I can watch what I want when I want.

  8. Press1forDialTone says:

    This is a super-FAIL in every way for Dish.
    They new going in that the ad-based-networks were going to
    come after them and they were ultimately going to lose. And lose big.
    When they should have been trying to perfect the incredibly dicey and
    glitchy satellite technology that is the basis for their service, they try something
    incredibly stupid like eliminating the source of income for the channels that
    are funded by ads. This type of stupidity is happening everywhere in business
    and government all around the world. Read Twilight of the Elites by Christopher
    Hayes. It will answer a lot of your questions about why everything seems broken
    and why.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      “They new going in that the ad-based-networks were going to
      come after them and they were ultimately going to lose.”

      …no, they “knew” going in that the networks would come after them, and that ultimately they had legal precedent to defend themselves – from the VCR era.

      The reason everything seems to be broken is because people are stupid, and we’re trying to make them stupider. Like the state of Texas wanting to ban the teaching of critical thinking skills to students so that they won’t question what is told to them from a position of authority. Like a church.

      http://www.skepticblog.org/2012/07/18/its-official-texas-gop-bans-critical-thinking/