May 10, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
In January DISH Network unveiled the Hopper, a whole-house high definition DVR system that allows users to record all primetime network shows (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC) with one press of a button (the feature is called “Primetime Anytime”) and watch them on up to 4 TVs around a home. Now a new feature adds auto commercial skipping.
DISH calls this feature Auto Hop, and it’s bound to make TV executives grind their teeth in anger. Viewers are offered the option to select Auto Hop when they schedule a recording. Auto Hop only works on primetime programming on the four major networks, and it also doesn’t work on live TV. Auto Hop also only works on next-day viewing, which means that if you record something that starts at 8PM and start playback at 8:30PM, Auto Hop won’t work. You’ll have to wait until at least 1AM before Auto Hop will work.
The commercials are actually recorded, and if a user wants to watch the commercials, they can turn off the feature at the beginning of playback.
A DISH representative says the technology is able to be expanded to other channels, but there’s no word on when/if that will happen.
The system will only skip commercials, but not weather alerts or emergency broadcast alerts.
Users obviously will appreciate this feature, but advertisers already don’t like that DVRs allow commercial skipping via the forward button (or 30-second skip). Now with Auto Hop, it becomes even easier to enjoy your primetime shows without commercials. Will broadcasters fight back with a technology that counteracts this feature? Will we be subjected to more in-show product placement? Even more important, will companies such as Comcast and Verizon follow up with their own version of Auto Hop?
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.