The Holy Grail of TV: Dish’s automatic commercial skipping angers networks

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Dish Network is looking to pick up T-Mobile if the Sprint merger fails
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Dish Network is looking to pick up T-Mobile if the Sprint merger fails

Dish Network made no friends among the major television broadcasters last week, but it will likely pique the interest of tens of thousands of consumers in the coming weeks as news of its latest feature proliferates. Dubbed “Auto Hop,” Dish began rolling out a new commercial-skipping feature to owners of its multi-room digital video recorder, the Hopper. Currently compatible with recorded shows originally broadcast on ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX, Auto Hop skips commercials automatically when enabled, with no action required by the viewer. Groups of ads are replaced by a single black frame for separation, and then the Hopper will skip directly to the next segment of the program.

“Viewers love to skip commercials,” Dish Network VP of Product Management Vivek Khemka said. “With the Auto Hop capability of the Hopper, watching your favorite shows commercial-free is easier than ever before. It’s a revolutionary development that no other company offers and it’s something that sets Hopper above the competition.”

Of course networks aren’t quite as impressed as viewers. ”I think this is an attack on our eco-system,” NBC chairman Ted Harbert said during a conference call on Monday. “I’m not for it.”

Dish Network’s Hopper multi-room DVR hardware and service costs $10 per month, just $4 more than Dish’s standard DVR, and the company’s new Auto Hop feature is now available at no extra charge.

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