Dish Network has a new feature that allows subscribers to skip TV commercials, a capability so controversial that it inspired lawsuits when ReplayTV introduced it 12 years ago.

It’s called “Auto Hop” in Dish Network’s implementation, and it is part of its Hopper PrimeTime Anytime feature that allows viewers to record all of the primetime TV programming on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC in HD with a single click. Users can choose to activate Auto Hop for programs they want to watch one to eight days after broadcast.

Some industry observers and analysts believe Dish Network is preparing to use Auto Hop as a bargaining chip in its currently contentious negotiations over its cost to carry network programming. In that scenario, Dish Network would disable the feature in return for a better deal.

While Auto Hop does not work on live TV, the service has a 30-second “hop” forward capability that can be used to avoid seeing most commercials.

“Viewers love to skip commercials,” said Vivek Khemka, vice president of Dish Product Management. “With the Auto Hop capability of the Hopper, watching your favorite shows commercial-free is easier than ever before. It’s a revolutionary development that no other company offers and it’s something that sets Hopper above the competition.”

ReplayTV introduced the ability to skip ads on DVR recordings in 1999. ReplayTV was purchased by a company called SONICblue in 2001; when SONICblue filed for bankruptcy in 2003, it cited the cost of fighting lawsuits as a primary factor. The bankruptcy meant the lawsuits were never heard.

Related links:

Dish Network – press release

Dish Network – Hopper site

MediaPost – Dish Makes Commercial-Skipping Easier With Auto Hop

TV Predictions – Is Dish’s Ad Zapper a Network Bluff?

AdWeek – Dish Invites You to Skip Prime-time Broadcast Ads

Forbes – Dish: Prime Time TV, No Ads; Can They Get Away With That?



  1. I think the Auto Hop feature is a wonderful addition to Hopper’s PrimeTime Anytime. Several of my co-workers at Dish have already had a chance to test the Auto Hop feature, and they’re elated that they now have a choice of whether or not to watch their PrimeTime Anytime commercial free. Khemka makes a good point that viewers prefer to skip commercials if given the option, and Dish is giving that opportunity.

    • I don’t understand why CBS, FOX, & NBC execs don’t want us to enjoy commercial-free TV. I’m a DISH employee – AutoHop is great because you can easily watch commercial-free TV. Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group, is taking a stand for consumers by creating a petition that tells CBS, FOX, & NBC media to keep their hands out of your living room & DVR. Sign their petition to keep control of how you watch TV