Comcast Files Patent to Halt DVR Ad-Skipping

Technology offers advertisers opposite of Dish Network's Ad Hop feature

Comcast is seeking a patent for new technology that will force subscribers who fast-forward through DVR-recorded shows to view advertising anyway, according to FierceCable, an online publication for cable network execs.

The cable operator is doing the exact opposite of what Dish announced last week. Dish's new Ad Hop technology allows viewers to totally skip ads during DVR playback of prime-time broadcast programming—an idea that, for obvious reasons, is unlikely to please advertisers.

Comcast subscribers who hit fast-forward on their remotes would receive an alternate ad displayed in the center of their TV screens, which could be partially transparent, FierceCable reported, citing a U.S. patent application for the technology. The patent application also reportedly details a strategy for targeting alternative ads to skip-happy subscribers based on demographics and viewing habits.

Some have pointed out that Dish's Ad Hop feature is limited in that it only allows viewers to skip ads during prime-time programming from four large networks—ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. 

However, with the average cost for a 30-second spot climbing again—now at $111,500, according to TVB—the ad industry still will have to figure out how to count Dish's 14 million subscribers during CPM negotiations during the upfront.

MSNBC noted that DVR company TiVo tried something similar to Ad Hop in 1999, letting viewers skip ads, but pulled the plug on the plan after networks expressed outrage.