Monday, June 18, 2012

Days of Commercial Free DVR Viewing May Be Numbered

ImMEDIAte Needs:  Days of commercial free DVR viewing may be numbered….

So you DVR your favorite shows to avoid commercials.  Your days of freedom from commercials may be numbered.

And that might be good news for your favorite shows.

Comcast has just applied for a patent for an invention that would allow advertisers to post ads on your DVR programming when you try to avoid advertising by fast forwarding.  The technology would even allow advertisers to target you specifically based on your viewing habits.  (So, if you watch more public television are you sending a message that you will do anything to avoid commercials?)

Monetizing the DVR may actually save your favorite shows.  During the recent National Association of Broadcasting convention I spoke to a person from Fox Television.  I mentioned to her that I hope she can save “Fringe.” 

She said that while ratings for “Fringe” were dismal, the number of DVR views was impressive. Well, “Fringe” will come back for thirteen episodes this Fall.  And many of its viewers will apparently watch the show via DVR.  Perhaps if those DVR viewers had to watch some advertising, the viewers might be rewarded by getting more than a half-season commitment. 

Yes, watching commercials is the punishment we endure for enjoying our favorite shows. Yes, we avoid that punishment by using our DVR option.  If we endure a little punishment with our DVR viewing, we might be able to save our favorite shows.

And maybe not running “Fringe” on Friday night might increase live viewership?

Update:  DISH network has announced a system that allows viewers to automatically skip commercials while watching programs on DVR.  Fox, NBC and CBS all filed suit to stop the roll out two weeks ago of Auto Hop, the new service from the satellite provider. 

This Memorial Day weekend, a commentator on the NPR program “On The Media” predicted the end of broadcast television by 2020.  Are we seeing the beginning of that end?

For comments or to see some past columns, please go to:



  1. Why don’t CBS, FOX, and NBC exec want consumers to enjoy commercial-free TV? It’s what we want! I’m a customer and employee of Dish, and I think AutoHop is great because you can easily watch commercial-free TV. A well known consumer advocacy group, Public Knowledge, agrees that people should have the right to control how they watch TV. They’re taking a stand for consumers by creating a petition that tells CBS, FOX, and NBC media to keep their hands out of your living room and DVR. Sign their petition to keep control of how you watch TV

  2. Maria,

    I am on your side as no doubt all viewers are. A lot of people are
    afraid that without revenue from commercials
    the networks will not be able to afford the rising costs of
    production. Networks are afraid that advertisers will not be willing
    to fork over the 4 million dollars for a 30 second ad on the upcoming
    Super Bowl if many viewers are skipping commercials.

    There has to be a compromise. Maybe cutting back commercials to about
    6-12 minutes per hour and charge the advertiser more. It's worth it
    to the advertiser if the viewer, knowing it's only a short break,
    stays in their chairs and endures a couple ads. The way things are,
    knowing the commercial break is 3-4 minutes long, I meander over to
    Weather Channel.

    Good luck with the petition. The Auto-Hop thing will end up in court.
    The Supreme Court already dealt with a similar issue when program
    producer Universal Studios sued Sony over the then new fangled beta
    tape video tape recorders. Sony won. A bit of history that's good
    news for DISH.

    Thanks for reading,

    ImMEDIAte Needs