It probably shouldn’t come as any surprise to you that advertisers hate your DVR/TiVO because they are convinced it leads to people fast forwarding through commercials, which it does a lot of the time, but then again people have been getting up during commercials to go the bathroom or to make a sandwich in the kitchen for as long as television has existed.
Still, advertising people are positively freaking the f*ck out over the new DVR that Dish Network just unveiled: it skips over all the ads in the shows Dish customers record, effectively erasing them, and eliminating the need to fast forward through them. Just press play, sit back and enjoy your favorite shows.
The disruptive technology at hand is an ad eraser, embedded in new digital video recorders sold by Charles W. Ergen’s Dish Network, one of the nation’s top distributors of TV programming. Turn it on, and all the ads recorded on most prime-time network shows are automatically skipped, no channel-flipping or fast-forwarding necessary.
Some reviewers have already called the feature, named Auto Hop, a dream come true for consumers. But for broadcasters and advertisers, it is an attack on an entrenched television business model, and it must be strangled, lest it spread.
Is should be noted that ad execs aren’t the only ones freaking over this — television execs are equally disturbed by the new DVR as well.
“How does Charlie Ergen expect me to produce ‘CSI’ ” without commercials? asked Leslie Moonves, the chief executive of the CBS Corporation, in response to questions from reporters on Wednesday morning before his annual upfront presentation.
Ted Harbert, the chairman of NBC Broadcasting, struck a similar note at his network’s presentation on Monday, calling the Dish feature an insult to the television industry. “Just because technology gives you the ability to do something, does that mean you should? Not always,” he said.
As network executives tell it, Dish Network is a friend turned foe, once preserving the advertising model but now threatening to turn on a doomsday device. (It didn’t help Dish’s cause that it gave the networks less than a day’s notice before announcing the feature last Thursday.)
So they are closing ranks to try to stop it. At least one of the network owners, News Corporation, is no longer accepting Dish’s new DVR ads on any of its television properties. It and several other owners are examining whether they can sue Dish, the same way they sued a maker of DVRs a decade ago, according to several people with knowledge of the deliberations, who insisted on anonymity to speak freely about the internal discussions.
I get the concern here, but goddamn do I want an Auto Hop DVR!