So here's something advertisers are unlikely to be wild about: Auto Hop, a new feature on Dish Network, will allow subscribers to automatically skip broadcast ads in DVR playback (starting the day after broadcast), rather than merely fast-forwarding, according to the company.
"Dish satellite subscribers will now get the feature viewers have been waiting for since the beginning of television—the choice to automatically skip over commercials," the company said in a statement.
With the average cost for a 30-second spot climbing again—now at $111,500, according to TVB—expect some serious blowback from the ad industry as buyers try to figure out how to count Dish's 14 million subscribers during CPM negotiations during the upfront.
Sell-side analysts at Bernstein Research issued a report within hours of the Dish announcement, noting Dish's litany of carriage negotiation showdowns in the recent past (last week, the satellite service dropped AMC Networks, which AMC blamed on litigation against Dish's parent company).
"It's hard to maintain good affiliate relations when you introduce a service designed to cut out the bulk of your affiliates' revenues," wrote senior analyst Craig Moffett in the report. Moffett cited other "broadcast-unfriendly features" at Dish, including 30-second skip buttons on their remote controls, and support for Slingbox, which allows out-of-home viewing (and thus cuts down on affiliate fees).
For its part, Dish appears to be betting that consumer glee will trump advertiser and affiliate rage. The company inked a deal with Fox in 2010 after a protracted standoff with the network, but it remains to be seen whether the network will be able to drive as hard a bargain on retrans fees after Auto Hop makes its way into the company's millions of broadcast-loving, ad-skipping households.