The rise of TiVo and other digital video recorders foretold an apocalypse, a sweeping river of change that would destroy the television industry as we know it thanks to lowered commercial advertising revenue. Except it didn't - it just made it easier to skip those four Honda commercials interrupting Law & Order. Now DISH Network has taken it one step further, installing a feature on its Hopper DVRs that automatically bypasses commercials.
The Wall Street Journal reports that DISH Network is sending out an update to its Hopper and Joey branded DVRs today that adds an "auto hop" feature. Press the button when a commercial break begins, and you automatically skip to where your show starts up again. If you press the button before the show begins, it will automatically skip all commercials, showing just a blank screen or a few frames of the first ad a split second before kicking in. "This has been the holy grail of television viewers for 40 years," said DISH CEO Joe Clayton.
Not so fast, Joe. There's a pretty severe list of limitations on the feature even as it launches. One, you can only use auto hop for recorded broadcasts, not any of the shows in your current buffer. Two, only shows from ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC are eligible, and even then only the prime time programs. (This is probably because the skips need to be synced with each broadcast.) And finally, you can only use the feature after 1 a.m. the following morning. Welcome to the future! If this is the holy grail, it comes with one hell of a catch.