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There’s a battle currently raging in the television industry. DISH Network made a big splash with the introduction of its Hopper whole-home DVR system. The reviews I have seen for the Hopper have been good and reviewers seem to be impressed with the system’s features.

Even though gadget reviewers and television viewers seem to be impressed with the Hopper’s features and functionality, there are some folks that aren’t too happy with a particular feature that makes skipping commercials easier than ever.

Network TV executives are not pleased that the Hopper allows viewers to automatically skip commercials during replay of certain primetime network television programs.

I’m spoiled. I admit it. I’ve been skipping commercials since the VCR was introduced to the consumer market back in the early 1980’s. It was a lot more tedious in those days since “fast forward” was the only option we had to blast through commercials with the VCR, but it got the job done and it was a lot better than sitting through the same commercials over and over again.vcr video tape

When I joined the rest of the 21st Century and got myself a DVR about six years ago I was thrilled to discover the “skip ahead” button on the remote control! One push of that button skips ahead about 30 seconds or so when one is watching a recorded program. That yellow button is, without a doubt, the most-used button on my remote control.

As one might expect, lawsuits and the threats of lawsuits are coming at DISH from the big networks. Although they seem to have accepted the fact that the advent of the VCR gave TV viewers the right to skip commercials, they are fighting tooth and nail to prevent commercial-skipping from going to the next level.

What the network executives don’t seem to understand is that a commercial-skipper is a commercial-skipper is a commercial-skipper. Maybe that doesn’t read so well, but I think you get the point. Someone like me is going to skip commercials using whatever means I have at my disposal. The genie is out of the bottle and has been since the early 1980’s and there’s no putting it back now.

Like I said before, I am spoiled. If I had to guess, I’d say about 95 percent of the TV programming I watch is recorded. As such, I don’t see many TV commercials. Most of them are boring, many of them are stupid, very few of them are actually well-done and almost all of them are repeated so many times during the airing of one program that it can make a TV viewer want to scream.

I’ll be the first to admit that some people have a higher tolerance for commercials. For example, my wife seems to watch TV in real time and has little or no problem with commercials. Note to TV executives: There’s your target market!

For me a commercial is akin to an assault on my senses. In addition, it’s also a waste of my time. The vast majority of the programs I record are an hour in length. Skipping commercials gets me through one of those programs in about 45 minutes or a little less. If I watch two hour-long programs, that saves me at least 30 minutes. Time well-worth saving in my opinion.

I think I’d be more tolerant of TV commercials if they weren’t pushed to the limit. A few nights ago I was particularly bored. I don’t usually have that problem, but this particular night was an exception and I decided to just go into the living room and sit down in front of the TV and see what my wife was watching. Unfortunately, there are few programs that we both enjoy watching so I knew I was taking a risk.

She happened to be watching America’s Got Talent, a primetime talent competition (like we needed another one of those!) that airs on one of the big networks. Fortunately for me, it is one of the shows she likes to watch that I can actually sit and watch for a while without losing my mind.

Although the show itself is tolerable I was surprised (yeah, actually surprised!) to see how many commercials were aired during that show! They would show a contestant perform their act, show the judges comments and then go to a commercial break. Time and time again they did that. One contestant, then a commercial break. I think there was one instance where they actually showed to contestants and then the commercial break but that definitely was the exception and not the rule.

I wish I had thought to be a bit more scientific about it and actually count the commercials, but I did not. Maybe I will in the future if I can stand it. However, I’m going to take a guess that each commercial break included about eight commercials. There may have actually been more, but again, I did not count them. I was beginning to think that there was as much time spent airing commercials as there was airing the program!

It got to the point where I started watching a program that was recorded on the DVR during the commercial breaks and I was amazed to find out how much of the recorded program I was able to watch!

These days it’s likely that the majority of TV viewers are paying for their viewing privileges by subscribing to cable or satellite TV. That’s something that seems to be lost on the TV executives at the big networks. If I’m paying for a service, I’m going to use it the way I want to use it.

In this case, that means skipping commercials and for commercial-skippers like me, that means I am going to skip commercials whether it is done automatically by my DVR or whether I have to sit there and press a yellow button on my remote control a few times every time a commercial comes on.

Blockbuster @Home New Releases


August 24th, 2012

The latest batch of new releases from DISH’s Blockbuster @Home:

Bernie (2011, PG-13). More from IMDB.

The Dictator (2012, R). More from IMDB.

Chimpanzee (2012, G). More from IMDB.

Virginia (2010, R). More from IMDB.

The Hunger Games (2012, PG-13). More from IMDB.

Hick (2011, R). More from IMDB.

The Monitor (2011, R). More from IMDB.

The Liquidator (2011). More from IMDB.

Bathory (2008, R) More from IMDB.

Sophie and Sheba (2011, PG). More from IMDB.

Newly-launched beIN Sport has acquired rights to broadcast the U.S. Men’s National Team soccer qualifiers beginning with the final two matches of the current round which will air on September 7th when the U.S. faces off against Jamaica and on October 12th when they meet Antigua and Barbuda.

With DISH offering a free preview of beIN Sport until September 11th, the first of those matches should be available to all DISH subscribers.Soccer Ball

BeIN Sport has also locked up the rights for the next round of qualifiers if the U.S. Team advances to the next round which starts in February, 2013. Also included will be the rights to air away and home games for all the other other CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) nations with the exception of Mexico.

This move by beIN Sport will likely be welcomed by soccer fans in the U.S. since there really was no cable channel that could be counted upon to air road qualifier games previously. Recently, soccer fans had to rely on pay-per-view programming to watch these matches, which cost them as much as $29.99 per game.

With the U.S. Soccer Federation in charge of the rights to air U.S. home games, beIN was able to acquire broadcast rights to away games by purchasing them from other CONCACAF countries that owned them.

BeIN Sport can be found on DISH channel 408.

BeIN Sport, a new 24-hour sports channel that provides soccer fans with games from leagues such as Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue Un has been launched on DISH.

Subscribers to the “America’s Top 250” programming package and higher will be able to watch beIN Sport on channel 408. The channel is currently being broadcast in standard definition. It will also be available as part of the DishLATINO programming package.BeIN Sport Logo

So that everyone can check out the new channel, DISH is offering beIN Sport as a free preview channel between August 16th and September 11th.

Select beIN Sport programming content will also be available to subscribers at DISHonline.com.

The launch of the new channel comes at a particularly good time considering that the new fall soccer season is set to get underway.

“Our association with beIN SPORT makes DISH the undisputed pay-TV leader in Latino sports,” according to Dave Shull, DISH senior vice president of programming at DISH. “BeIN SPORT is bringing together the best games, from the best leagues from around the world onto one channel.”

In addition to live game action from the top leagues around the world, beIN Sport also features general sports news and in-depth analysis which will keep fans up-to-date and informed.

DSH Network acquired Blockbuster more than a year ago and the company has shown its commitment to building on a brand that is very recognizable to many consumers all across the nation.

The grand opening of the new Blockbuster World Headquarters facility further demonstrates DISH’s intent to make Blockbuster a prominent member of the DISH Network family. The new headquarters building is located on the DISH campus at the Meridian International Office Park in Douglas County, Colorado.

The grand opening ceremony attracted dignitaries such as Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who joined DISH CEO Joe Clayton and Blockbuster President Michael Kelly in cutting the ribbon to officially open the new facility.

The opening is expected to result in the addition of 150 new jobs for the region.

Blockbuster stores across the country are taking part in the opening celebration by rolling out the “Blue Carpet,” a reference to the upgrades that have been made in Blockbuster stores nationwide that are designed to improve the customer experience with the new “Blue Carpet Wall” that includes the latest movie releases, play zones dedicated to kids’ movies and video games, and an advanced DISH in-store kiosk where customers can experience the recently-launched Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR system first hand.

Blockbuster President Michael Kelly sounded very upbeat and was quoted as saying: “I’m very excited about the future of Blockbuster as we enter a new age in digital delivery of home entertainment, giving customers the entertainment they want and how they want it, whether in stores, by mail or over digital devices. As part of the DISH family, we are financially positioned for growth in all business areas while realizing greater efficiencies. We’ll continue to celebrate throughout the year with in-store and by-mail promotions that will help Blockbuster rise to the top of consumer choice for home entertainment.

DISH Network has recently added three new channels to their Heartland programming package. Heartland is a package that’s focused on bringing family-friendly programming to DISH subscribers. Classic movies and television series are just some of what the Heartland package has to offer.

The recent additions to the package include GSN (Game Show Network), OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) and HUB.

GSN’s programming is pretty much what you might expect considering the name of the channel. They air a variety of game shows including current and classic game shows such as “Jeopardy,” “Deal or No Deal,” “The Match Game,” “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?,” “Family Feud” and many more.

Since Oprah Winfrey signed off from “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” OWN or “Oprah Winfrey Network” is her primary television project. The channel airs a variety of programming which includes Winfrey’s new show entitled “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” Other programming runs the gamut from game shows to reality shows to talk shows and a lot more.

HUB broadcasts programming for young children during the daytime hours and then transitions to programming that’s geared more towards family viewing during the evening and nighttime hours. From programs such as “Pound Puppies” during the day and “Sabrina The Teenage Witch” and “ALF” at night, HUB’s family-oriented programming is a good fit as part of the Heartland programming package.

Also included in the Heartland package are channels such as Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movie Channel, GMC, PixL, RFD-TV, Rural TV and Baby TV.

At any given time, you can usually find free preview channels available to check out on DISH. Free previews allow subscribers to watch channels for a limited time that are not normally included in their programming package/

It’s a great way to find out about channels you have not had a chance to see before. In fact, it was free previews of channels like “Investigation Discovery” and the “National Geographic Channel” that influenced me to upgrade my programming package a while back.

Here are the free preview channels DISH is offering this month:

Rural TV: August 16th through September 11th – Channel 232

Tennis Channel: August 27th through September 8th – Channel 400 – Available in HD

Animal Planet: August 16th through September 11th – Channel 184 – Available in HD

Universal Sports: August 15th through August 28th – Channel 402

Epix: August 9th through August 21st – Channels 292, 380, 381, 382 – Available in HD

GSN: August 18th through September 11th – Channel 116 – Available in HD

Palladia: August 16th through September 11th – Channel 369 – Available in HD

It looks like DISH’s new Hopper DVR is already a hit with customers. DISH has really shaken up the industry with the commercial-skipping features of the Hopper. I suspect television viewers that enjoy watching commercials are a pretty small percentage of viewers.

I’ll admit that I do occasionally stumble across a TV commercial that’s actually entertaining, but those are few and far between. I actually don’t see many commercials since about 90% of the television I do watch is recorded.TV Head

The “magic yellow button” on my DVR remote control allows me to skip ahead about 30 seconds while watching any recorded programming. That button gets a lot of use when I’m watching the programs I’ve recorded on my DVR because I use it to “zap” commercials.

The Hopper’s “AutoHop” ability to automatically skip commercials while viewing recorded primetime programming is something that Hopper users seem to be impressed with. During DISH’s recent 2nd quarter conference call, CEO Joe Clayton was reported to have said that the company plans to ship 700,000 units this year and 600,000 units during 2013 and 2014.

It’s no secret that television network executives are none too happy about the Hopper’s ability to skip commercials. As Clayton was reported to have said, “We do not know how the courts will rule on AutoHop, but we do know that we have already won in the court of public opinion.”

I strongly suspect that Clayton’s remarks are on the money. I ‘m not a fan of programming from the big four networks and almost never watch it, but if I did, I’d sure appreciate the AutoHop technology. My “magic yellow button” is indeed a blessing, but I wouldn’t mind having commercials skipped automatically while I’m watching something.

I’m hoping that DISH will be able to expand the AutoHop functionality so that it can eliminate commercials from all recorded programming. As I’ve pointed out before, I pay for my television programming each month and part of that payment goes to the companies that provide the content that broadcasters like DISH Network beam to their subscribers.

As a consumer, if I pay for something, I can consume it the way I want to. I’ve already paid for the programming I watch, so why should I have advertising forced on me as well?

I may not be the most informed viewer when it comes to reporting on TV advertising, but what little of it I do see is pretty pathetic. Not only do I see the same products advertised over and over again (auto insurance, cell phones and automobiles), the commercials are often poor attempts at being clever or amusing.

If network executives and advertisers want consumers to watch commercials they need to step up their game and start airing commercials that are actually entertaining or informative. How many bumbling dads doing stupid things can the viewing public stand?

Until TV advertising evolves into something that people actually want to watch, people are going to keep skipping commercials when they are given that capability. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that day to arrive, but until then I’ll continue to wear out that magic yellow button on my DVR remote.

DISH has announced the most recent titles that have become available via Blockbuster @Home.

The Liquidator (2011). More from IMDB.

Ladda Land (2011). More from IMDB.

LOL (2012). More from IMDB.

ATM (2011). More from IMDB.

We the Party (2012). More from IMDB.

The Haunting of Whaley House (2012). More from IMDB.

Age of the Dragons (2011). More from IMDB.

Silent House (2011). More from IMDB.

Brake (2011). More from IMDB.

The Monitor (2011). More from IMDB.

Casa de mi Padre (2012). More from IMDB.

Bathory (2008). More from IMDB.

It may be the “unofficial end of summer,” but thanks to Steve Bellamy’s plan to launch a brand-new surfer-themed channel, this September will let surf fans bask in warm surfer dreams all through winter.

With a name that falls neatly in line with his other sports-themed channels like Tennis Channel and Ski Channel, Surf Channel will hit the airwaves sometime around the middle of September and will reportedly be available in 20 million homes.Surfer

I have not seen any official word from DISH regarding the new channel, but press reports say that DISH will carry the channel along with DirecTV, Comcast and Cox Cable.

Programming for the new channel has not been ironed out yet – or at least it hasn’t been revealed publicly –  but Surf Channel will begin its broadcasting with an airing of the The Endless Summer, a 1966 classic and pretty much timeless surf flick.

Unlike some other sports, surfing is often viewed as a lifestyle as much as it is a sport. This, of course, is something that’s not lost on Bellamy who says, “Surf, its lifestyle and environment, create an unparalleled canvas for a television network. The Surf Channel will be a sports channel, travel channel and lifestyle channel all in one.”

Although participants in sports like skiing far outnumber surfers, there’s no argument that surfers are a dedicated group. With the whole lifestyle angle that goes hand-in-hand with surfing, it’s no wonder. If there’s a skiers lifestyle, I’ve never heard of it.

As someone who much prefers the warmer weather over the cold of the winter months, what Bellamy says about covering surfing resonates with me.

“Surf is probably the best canvas to paint on from a television perspective," he says. "You’ve got the most beautiful locations you could dream of, it’s always fun and sun, you’ve got beautiful bodies, superhuman athleticism and the whole extreme thing, with people riding gigantic waves. It’s where sport meets art in a lot of ways, and it’s done in the most beautiful places in the world. It’s a great place to do moving pictures.”

I think he may be onto something here.

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