Monday, July 2, 2012

Time Warner Doesn't Want You To Fast Forward On Your DVR

Content providers have been doing everything in the book to force consumers to sit through, watch, and tolerate ads for other products during and/or before the movie or TV show that you just got yourself ready to watch. With TV, cable, and satellite providers' DVRs, we all know we use the fast forward button on our remotes almost entirely for skipping the ads during our shows. Well, Time Warner's caught on to that memo, and they just got awarded the power to put a stop to that.

"Invented" by a man named Charles Hasek, Time Warner Cable just won a patent that in essence prevents subscribers from skipping ads that are part of the recording on their DVR. It basically does the opposite of what DISH's "Auto Hop" feature does on their Hopper service.
"The ability to prevent trick mode functionality may be important for a number of reasons. Advertisers may not be willing to pay as much to place advertisements if they know that users may fast forward through the advertisement and thus not receive the desired sales message. Content providers may not be willing to grant rights in their content, or may want to charge more, if trick modes are permitted," Time Warner Cable writes in the patent, which was issued by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on May 15.
Interesting word choice: "trick mode functionality" almost sounds like you're blaming the customer. You know them, the people that are giving you money? There's nothing tricky or cryptic/secret about it: we don't want to sit through the ads in their entirety; and the only "functionality" that's in the damn devices are what YOU put in them! It's not difficult to understand: you made it, and we're using it...and now you're faulting your paying customers for it? You're biting the hand that feeds you, man...

Click here for more...

If that's not enough, Time Warner's already implementing this new feature on your DVRs: you're no longer able to fast forward on TV shows/recordings that you get using either the "Look Back" or "Start Over" features (for you non-customers, "Look Back" goes up to 3 days into the past to obtain a TV show you might have missed).

But it looks like there are some tiny cracks to fall through, if you're lucky enough:
Time Warner Cable notes in the patent that it may be difficult for cable operators to prevent commercial skipping on DVRs that aren't controlled by the operator, but the MSO offers a technique for preventing viewers from skipping commercials in cable programing they record on other devices.
If you're not a Time Warner customer, then you can breathe a sigh of relief, but you're not out of the woods yourself...
The penchant viewers with DVRs have for skipping ads has prompted other multichannel providers to look at ways to preserve advertising placed in TV programs. Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) recently submitted a patent application that details how it could deliver alternative commercials to subscribers that hit the fast-forward button on their remotes to skip ads. 
story via Fierce Cable

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