DISH TV’s Ad Hopping “The HOPPER,” A Trend Setter, Gimmick Or Doomed to Fail?

by on May 23, 2012

in Entertainment

DISH TV's ad Skipping Technology - The Hopper

If you follow, you know I’ve had my issues with some of the spammer business practices from DISH TV. But aside from that, of late, you may have noticed the DISH TV ads where they toss out their product, with this thing called “The Hopper.” Or as that one character puts it, “The Hoppah!”

But I didn’t realize what it was because up until last week, The Hopper was never explained. It was just a term coined and tossed out into the ad. Be we found out when DISH announced the device’s capability during the annual “upfronts.” (Though I’m not sure that’s the best place to announce that!)

Turns out that The Hopper, actually called “Auto Hop,” is DISH TV’s newest DVR box with the technology to erase/skip the ads that it records. That way when you watch your DVR’d TV show, you don’t have to deal with the ads. But announcing something like this at the upfronts, where networks are pitching their product to advertisers, well, makes me scratch my head.

It’s A Disgruntled Acceptance

For the consumer, this is a huge step towards recognizing our disdain for the overly loud TV ad that fraks with our TV viewing experience. But to the TV industry, it threatens its very livelihood, and in a round-about way, the consumers very source of entertainment is also threatened.

My last sentence might seem confusing to some, so let me explain that one.

As you know, I’ve reported in previous years how the advertising industry drops around TEN BILLION dollars a year just on the primary networks each year. This let’s them shore up coveted ad time so they can pitch their wares to the TV watching consumer. As you groan about that idea, think of this:

  • First: They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.
  • Second: Without that kind of money, your favorite TV shows would not happen. Period.

Therein lies the issue.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

DISH TV Network and their ad skipping DVRThe TV industry is in an uproar about DISH TV’s new tech, claiming such angst as how do you expect us to produce CSI without commercials, as CBS’s main man, Leslie Moonves inquired out-loud. Or NBC’s Ted Harbert (chairman) saying this is an insult to the television industry.

And to be honest, they have to ‘toe the line’ in their stance about this because without the monies from advertisers, the industry of television, and every single superfluous business that has sprung forth from it, will fade away.

With no money, shows go away because cast and crew are not free. They’re very expensive. Cable networks would fade, the internet streaming industry could suffer (IE: Netflix, TiVo) also. Sadly, we have to endure the TV ads because that’s where the real money comes from. Despite companies like Comcast making billions, the advertisers keep things rolling along so that TV production companies can pay actors $100k to $500k an episode and so forth.

If we didn’t have advertisers, we would end up with publicly funded TV. If you haven’t seen one of your local, publicly funded program stations, you should check it out and TRY to last through one or two shows.

That’s what I’m talking about!

Now skipping ads, like DISH TV is trying to pitch with their new DVR technology called The Hopper (Auto Hop), is not a new premise, but it’s obviously one that has been stuffed away into a corner where no one looks.

TiVo tried this about ten years ago, but digressed, though they’ve managed to present advertising to their viewers, even while fast forwarding through ads! A company called ReplayTV (who?) tried to take a stand and started skipping ads with their product and… well, they filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

I had a VCR back in the 90’s that detected ads and fast-forwarded over them. The technology is not that hard to deploy, considering HOW LOUD TV ads can be compared to the rest of the TV show.

(Did you know that TV Ads are no louder than the loudest part of any TV show? Or, as they try to pitch it, TV ads aren’t louder… technically… due to digital compression. Give me a break! My ears hurt. My neighbors can hear the ads and not the show. That IS louder, as far as most people are concerned.)


DISH is saying that this new tech is going to help promote TV and it will help people check out new shows.

Seriously? I’m not sure where/when we’ll be able to squeak out extra hours from our days to watch new stuff… but it’s a cute pitch that makes is sound like they want to toe-the-line, and yet, while DISH says they’ll be able to turn more people on to new shows, they still spin that they are sensitive to the needs of networks.

Then the consumer anti-pitch: They back up their pitch about supporting networks with the premise that this feature will only be usable two hours after the end of prime-time each day. So what, we have to stay up until 10 p.m. every night to deploy this neat new tech? Actually, “Perfectly named that Auto Hop, this new feature edits out the breaks from those Primetime Anytime recordings starting at 1 am

Is This A DISH TV Sales Gimmick?

DISH TV has tried other sales tactics in the past and to be honest, my conjecture is that they’re hoping to nab some subscribers before they are forced to drop this ad-skipping tech.

We, the consumer have been fast-forwarding through ads for years, when allowed. And when we can’t, well, this consumer just thumps the mute button so my household isn’t blasted with the overly loud product pitches. It’s actually somewhat peaceful. The only ads I leave an are ads for The Avengers!

But what will matter is when DISH has to deal with their distribution deals with the networks. That is, if the tech is still around. I’m betting that by next season, this will all be old news. TV needs advertisers and they won’t play with someone who isn’t on board with them. (See ReplayTV) No matter what the consumer says.

Because in the end, many of us dislike being forced to deal with ads, but many more consumers not only are the silent majority, but they let the spin doctors convince them what to buy. And if ads did not work, they would not exist.

[NY Times Business Section,
May 17th edition]

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