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Auto Hop: Will Dish Network's ad-skipping system backfire?
Dish rolls out a feature for its high-end subscribers that magically erases TV commercials. Predictably, advertisers are not pleased
 
Dish Network's display at the 2012 Computer Electronics Show: With the average 30-second TV commercial costing $111,500, the ad industry won't be happy about Dish's new ad-skipping technology.
Dish Network's display at the 2012 Computer Electronics Show: With the average 30-second TV commercial costing $111,500, the ad industry won't be happy about Dish's new ad-skipping technology.
Facbook/Dish Network

Satellite TV provider Dish Network's recently rolled-out Hopper digital-recording system "was already the king of DVRs," says Casey Chan at Gizmodo, but its brand new Auto Hop feature is the icing on the cake. The Hopper's PrimeTime Anytime system records every primetime show on the four networks with the push of a button, and now Auto Hop magically makes the commercials in those shows disappear (once a day has passed since the show's original airtime). It's like you're watching the TV show on DVD. "Viewers love to skip commercials," says Dish's Vivek Khemka. But TV networks don't, since ads are how they earn money. Will this end well for Dish?

Customers will love it: "Snagging a DVR is one of the best things you can do if you've no interest in sitting through ads," says Ray Willington at Hot Hardware. Dish understands this, and with Auto Hop, it's hard to see how the company won't be rewarded for offering "the feature viewers have been waiting for since the beginning of television." Sure, the company will take "some flack" from content producers, but I'm sure I'm not the only one "feeling the urge to go Dish."
"Dish Network 'Auto Hop' leaps right past those pesky ads"

But Dish's partners will be furious: Auto Hop ensures that Dish will be "the most hated company in the television business," says Eric Savitz at Forbes. Dish is already parting ways with AMC, and thus Mad Men, over money, and it's hard to see the networks sitting by as Dish drains their ad revenue. Remember, Dish isn't the first company to try to erase commercials. The other one, ReplayTV, went bankrupt fighting off the easily foreseeable legal challenges.
"Dish: Prime time TV, no ads; can they get away with that?"

It's a gamble, but it could pay off: The average cost of a 30-second spot has climbed to $111,500, so "expect some serious blowback from the ad industry," says Sam Thielman at AdWeek. But with 14 million subscribers, Dish doesn't come to the table empty-handed. This is the most aggressive anti-broadcaster move Dish has made, but it isn't the first, and the networks are still onboard. "Dish appears to be betting that consumer glee will trump advertiser and affiliate rage." It could be right.
"Dish invites you to skip prime-time broadcast ads "

 

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