It doesn’t take long for news to spread in this age of “instant everything.” Thanks to the internet, new details are emerging regarding a brand-new feature that DISH Network has enabled on their Hopper whole-home DVR system that allows viewers to skip commercials more efficiently than ever.
We already knew that “Auto Hop” allows Hopper users to automatically skip commercials while watching most programs that were recorded with the “Primetime Anytime” feature which can be set up to record all prime time programming on the four big networks (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC) automatically and store the recording for up to eight days.
Even when “Primetime Anytime” is recording, the Hopper still allows users to record two other channels at the same time, giving the hopper the unique ability to record a total of six different programs at the same time.
The tech editor at USA Today has written up a nice, detailed review of the new “Auto Hop” feature that includes new details. For DISH customers – or potential DISH customers – thinking about getting a Hopper DVR, the article provides some valuable information about how it actually works. A previous post here provides some basic information about the new functionality.
According to the USA Today article, a viewer can decide whether or not to enable the “Auto Hop” feature when they select a program to watch that was recorded using the “Primetime Anytime” feature. Programs that allow commercial-skipping will be indicated by displaying a kangaroo icon next to them when they are viewed in the menu of recorded programs.
When a user selects a program to watch that features “Auto Hop” capability, the user is prompted with on-screen dialog asking if they want to enable the “Auto Hop” functionality for that program. I certainly know how I would answer that query, but heck, maybe there are people out there who actually like commercials.
When watching a program that has “Auto Hop” enabled, the Hopper will show a very brief snippet of the commercial break while displaying a kangaroo icon on the screen. The USA Today article described it as a “flash” of the commercial, so I expect that it is very brief interruption that lasts a second or perhaps less. Surely not enough to rile up a serious commercial-hater like myself.
The article also reveals that the “Auto Hop” feature is not available to use for local news and sports programming that was recorded using “Primetime Anytime.” That probably isn’t a major issue for most viewers since the 30-second skip button should still be useful for zapping commercials under those circumstances.
Although this closer look at the Hopper’s functionality has me anxious to try the Hopper out myself, I’m still going to wait a bit longer simply because I like to give new technology like this a little time in the “real world” before I jump on board. Since I also have a move coming up in the near future, I figure it might be the perfect time to upgrade to the Hooper when I take advantage of the “DISH Mover” service to get DISH set up at my new location.
There is some speculation about how the networks will react to DISH’s inclusion of this new commercial-skipping technology. I look at it this way: Commercial-shipping has been around since the VCR hit the consumer market in the early 1980’s and trust me, I was one who was using the “fast forward” button on my VCR religiously to blast through commercials with my trusty VCR.
People who hate commercials are going to skip them using “fast forward” “30-second skip” or whatever functionality they have at their disposal. I doubt that the new “Auto Hop” feature is going to cause any significant number of viewers to start skipping commercials if they had not already been doing so.
The biggest problem I have with commercials is that most of them seem to use the same cookie-cutter recipe that includes lame humor or excessive drama. Worst of all, perhaps, is the way the same commercials are shown over and over again during a single program.
Believe it or not, I actually stumble onto a commercial from time-to-time that I actually find genuinely clever, funny or informative. Granted, it’s very rare, but it tells me that advertisers could make their offerings much more palatable if they’d put a little more effort into creating unique, engaging advertising.