New for this year, Dish Network's Hopper DVR
utilizes the latest technology to let subscribers record their favorite shows and automatically skip commercial ads using Dish's Auto Hop
feature. The person at home loves it, but apparently networks do not.
by Deadline.com, David Zaslav, the CEO for Discovery Communications, stated, "In the end a technology like that could create real carnage for the industry.” He went on to add, “If there isn’t going to be advertising, then there needs to be a lot higher subscriber fees,” further elaborating, “Either subscription prices are going to go up or there’s going to be less content made.”
The comments do go to the heart of the issue, which has frustrated viewers lined up against too many minutes of ad time. Some TV fans argue they skip over the ads anyway, but the fact is that many do watch the commercials and that does spur on the continuation of the media genre.
A showdown could be coming, though, and it is difficult to say whether the viewers, networks, cable and satellite providers, and sponsors can all come to a viable consensus.
For TV viewers, commercials are often a pain. The number of ads in any given episode has increased dramatically since the early days of television when a single sponsor perhaps aired two minutes of commercials per half hour. Today, there are so many commercials that to make more time for programming, opening themes are mere seconds for many shows versus the old days when they could be a couple of minutes long themselves.
As viewer frustration rose at the number of commercials immersed in their entertainment programs, the advent of electronics began to boom. Videocassette recorders, better known as VCRs, became standard. As the technology increased, some actually could read the transmitting signals and skip entire commercial segments. Others gave watchers the chance to hit a button and zoom forward 30 seconds.
Then came TiVO and digital video recorders that also offered watchers the opportunity to conveniently fast forward through the abundance of ads. Cable viewing on demand has also increased and with that, for some shows, has come forced watching of commercials where the fast forward button is actually disabled.
Networks make their money from advertisers who pay to have their commercials inserted into programming. These days, those ad rates have grown quite a bit. In fact, GM just made the news for refusing to pay over $4 million for a 30-second spot during the 2013 Super Bowl. That's big money, which many other companies will pay for a piece of prime time advertising real estate.
At issue these days, however, is that viewers are sick and tired of their shows having less plot and more ads. Some have greatly reduced their viewership as a result, while others make use of technology to skip over the ads.