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.
Dish Network – press release
Dish Network – Hopper site
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