Dish Network's AutoHop Allows Limited Commercial Skipping

It sounds much too good to be true. So much so that we didn't believe it at first (and you can bet there are some restrictions), but there it is right in the title. Major television providers will allow you to automatically skip commercials!

AutoHop and Primetime Anytime

Currently, many MSOs (Multiple System Operators) allow viewers to either fast forward through the commercials in their recordings or to use a 30-second skip button to quickly jump ahead. Dish has decided to go one step further when it comes to their Primetime Anytime service. If you remember when the Hopper system launched, Primetime Anytime allows you to record all four broadcast networks every day during primetime viewing hours. Hopper automatically saves these recordings for eight days.

You could always skip through commercials using 30-second skip or your fast-forward button. However, AutoHop allows subscribers to automatically skip commercials in their Primetime Anytime recordings as long as they watch them after 1 am the following day. While this could put you behind the curve when discussing shows at work the next day, the idea of automatically skipping commercials is reason enough to delay all of our TV watching by at least a day!

It should be noted that AutoHop only works on Primetime Anytime recordings and isn't available for other recorded programming or live TV. Even so, this is a great step forward for DVR technology.

AutoHop and Broadcasters

One has to wonder how broadcasters are going to react. Nielsen, the company that tracks ad views and show ratings, actually takes DVR viewing into account now. The company usually uses +3 numbers, tracking DVR views for three days after a show has aired. If ads are no longer viewed by Dish subscribers, this is going to skew the numbers when it comes to ad views. The only question is by how much.

It'll be curious to see the number of subscribers who actually turn on the service. It's been found to this point that even DVR users watch more live TV and rarely fast forward through commercials. If that trend continues then broadcasters may not care very much. It'll also be curious to see if other MSOs offer features like this, though it wouldn't be as easy for cable companies without providing new hardware to subscribers (cable DVRs need a tuner for each channel recorded whereas the Hopper uses a single tuner to record all four broadcast networks).

Though it seems highly unlikely that we'll see AutoHop moving to other providers, it's nice to see an MSO move forward with convenience technology and not simply providing more tuners or a bigger hard drive in their DVR. Though the Hopper provides both of these things over competitors if you factor in Sling capabilities and the whole-house properties that the Hopper and companion Joey STBs provide, Dish is definitely moving forward as others remain stagnant.