Microsoft Patents System That Would Let You Pay To Skip Commercials

It used to be that streaming a show online meant you had to deal with a minimum number of ads. But those online ad breaks are now growing longer and longer, and you usually don’t have a method for fast-forwarding past them. That’s why Microsoft has patented a system that would allow you to skip ads — for a price.

Late last year, the Windows wizards received a patent for “Control-based content pricing.”

From the patent application:

In an implementation of control-based content pricing, a content server distributes media content to a client device in response to a request from the client device to receive the media content. A valuation application allocates a cost to the client device when the media content is distributed to the client device. The content server receives a view control input from the client device that indicates how the media content is to be rendered and the valuation application adjusts the cost according to the view control input and how the media content is to be rendered.

Essentially, you would download all the content, including ads, but the price would change if you skipped ads or watched the show more than once.

More from the patent application:

[A]dvertisers will be increasingly unwilling to have their advertising messages communicated with media content that a viewer can navigate to skip over the advertisements… Accordingly, media content providers need to provide alternate advertisement revenue models so that advertisers will continue to sponsor advertising messages being delivered with media content for consumer viewing….

For example, if a user initiates a navigation control input to advance past (e.g., skip over) an advertisement, the cost of a requested on-demand movie may be increased. Similarly, if a user initiates a replay of a sporting event, the user may be charged for the replay control input and for each subsequent view control input. This provides an advertisement revenue model that reflects user viewing choices and selections during playback of requested on-demand media, and enables targeted advertising and media content delivery, while maintaining consumer privacy.

We wonder if the system would allow people to skip mid-commercial, thus giving the consumers the ability to actively veto (albeit for a price) advertising that is particularly grating or repetitive.

Microsoft seeks patent on monetizing buttons of TV remote [GeekWire]


Edit Your Comment

  1. visual77 says:

    I’m just going to leave this here.

  2. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    We already have a system that allows you to skip commercials for free. It’s called bittorrent.

  3. duncanblackthorne says:

    If they implemented this on TiVo, I’d sell it on Craigslist and stop watching television completely.

  4. Cat says:

    Don’t forget the part where MS harvests your skip-data and sells it to advertisers, for the perfect double dip.

  5. Velifer says:

    I paid for this once before.

  6. elephantattack says:

    Give me the option to never see a commercial on uverse again… Then we’ll talk

    • Skipweasel says:

      Ah – what you want is the BBC in the UK. Except for trailers, which do get a bit annoying, there’s no adverts. That’s both telly and radio, too.

  7. nishioka says:

    I find Adblock Plus does just fine at stripping advertisements out of online video, thank you very much.

  8. Cosmo_Kramer says:

    Fine by me. I’m more than happy to pay for the media I consume.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      I’m fine with paying for content, too. Hell, I’m find with paying again if I view it again (maybe that will encourage them to make better content that makes me want to view it again). But, I don’t even want to have to skips ads. I want pay content that just has NO ADS AT ALL.

      Now they have to fill out the whole hour. So instead of just seeing 38 minutes of Mike Holmes tearing down a house and rebuilding it, I can get all 60 minutes.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      Are you actually paying for it though, or are you just getting it for free and taking a degraded experience as part of the bargain?

      One advantage to “actually paying for it” is that you can completely skip nonsense like this.

  9. Lyn Torden says:

    The fast-forward button has already been invented. No need to re-invent the wheel. Just learn how to use it.

    And, BTW, why does the “AARP sues HUD over reverse-mortgage foreclosures” listed under this article not work over at

  10. LunaMakesThings says:

    What’s super annoying to me is that I pay for Hulu Plus so we can watch it on the tv on the comfy couch instead of all crowded around my computer screen, but even though I pay for it, there are still ads!

  11. frank64 says:

    If you take the average ad revenue per subscriber it might be worth it. But when e-media gets invlovled everyone wants to make big licensing fees. There are usually more people involved that are used to high margins- like APPLE.

    It will be overpriced.

  12. tbax929 says:

    Coming soon to your DVR. I swear if it happens, I’ll drop my satellite dish like a hot potato, regardless of the ETF.

    The only time I tolerate commercials is on the rare occurrence that I’m home to watch a baseball game live. I’m usually reading or cleaning during a game and don’t mind the commercials.

  13. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    This is what I hate about Comcast On Demand. On certain shows, you can’t fast forward through the commercials, and it’s not like they show a variety of commercials throughout the program, it’s the same 2 or 3 over and over. I watched one episode of Body of Proof, and after the 10th Gnomeo and Juliet commercial, I was ready to shoot my TV.

    Just one more reason to get rid of Comcast cable.

  14. glebe says:

    Why is this patentable? It’s not even a system for implementing the process, just the idea of such a process.

    If this is a viable business model anyone should be able to do it provided they aren’t stealing each others’ technologies.

    What will probably happen is Microsoft won’t do anything with this but someone else will find a great way of implementing it and then Microsoft will sue them.

    Thank goodness the guy who came up with the business model of making pizza and then selling said pizza didn’t patent it.

  15. samonela says:

    Adblock Plus does a pretty good job on most networks’ websites. Except ABC. However, I found out that if the script that runs the navigation bar on that website “stops running” you can watch the show completely commercial free.

  16. ECA says:



  17. NumberSix says:

    Prepair to Fast Forward!

  18. bben says:

    Isn’t that exactly what Cable TV was supposed to be?
    And look at it now.
    History Chanel no longer shows history
    MTV doesn’t show music videos
    The Weather Chanel shows movies
    Arts & Entertainment got rid of arts a long time ago, and have more recently dumped the entertainment part

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      And Bravo — certainly nothing to cheer about anymore.

    • VashTS says:

      Gosh why did the History channel and Discovery sell out. Let me not start on the TLC channel. Thanks goodness for the internet. I remember just TWO years ago the History channel actually showed history.

      During Christmas show, religious documentaries, same for Easter. During Thanksgiving, talk about the first settlers…now a bunch of reality crap for fairies and Oprah-disciples to watch. Sorry a little harsh there but just making a point. I want my History and Discovery and Nat Geo back like it was a couple years ago.

    • Rexy on a rampage says:

      Forgot a few:

      Travel channel – Same freaking things over and over and over again.
      Discovery – now shows sensationalist crap (it *used* to be good with informative programs years ago)
      Food Network – more about inane competitions than food.
      CMT – gone the same route as MTV

    • scoopjones says:

      No kidding. The History Channel is more “reality” TV now, with a few documentaries in the off hours so they can still call themselves the “History” Channel. Do advertisers have any idea how many viewers are tuning out of this crap? It’s all lowest-common denominator programming. I would have dumped cable years ago if it hadn’t been for needing Internet access. No way I would ever pay for something like digital cable with the worthless crap that’s on now.

  19. emax4 says:

    Why would anyone pay for it when they can just kill time by playing Angry Birds or solitaire on their iPhones/iPads?

  20. blm says:

    Watch the second episode of Black Mirror for this idea taken to extremes.

  21. and_another_thing says:

    I pay for Netflix in part because there is zero advertising.

    I will not pay for Hulu because the advertising cannot be avoided.

    I have basic cable only to get solid reception of local channels, since I’m in a spot where I’d have to erect a tall mast to get good reception. Cable (Cox) has raised prices on basic service twice in the last year, tempting me more and more to give up on it entirely.

    I use MythTV to skip commercials. I pay for cable, so my conscience is clear.

  22. FrugalFreak says:

    just get adblock

  23. VashTS says:

    So everyone else is sick of Cable showing MORE commercials and less real programming too? History Channel shows History, Weather Channel shows Weather. I hate when these stations started to cut programming in favor of reality based shows. PAWN STARS…..REALLY???? That’s an educational show?

    Only thing I learn is how not to be and who not to hang out with. No, no…if I said any more I would forever be labeled a racist.

  24. ancientone567 says:

    We already have a way to do that. It is called torrents.

  25. nacoran says:

    I’ve always thought TV stations should offer a premium version with no ads. The problem, of course, is that the people with enough money to upgrade to premium are also the people the advertisers want.

    Of course, I think all TV that comes with commercials should be free. I hate paying for cable to watch shows that should be making money off their commercials instead, especially as a night owl, since I often turn on the TV and find 2/3’s of the stations are showing infomercials.

  26. Groanan says:

    People are forgetting that this is 2012 and Microsoft is now one of the good guys; maybe they patented this method just so they can block anyone else from ever using it?

  27. Talisker says:

    Already have that system. It’s called “buy a season pass on iTunes.”