Hopper Wins

Which is good.

If the networks had won, they would have tried to come up with a way to prevent people from going to the bathroom during the ads.

But the courts have affirmed the right for viewers to use ad skipping technologies:

A federal court decision Wednesday gave fresh support to a new technology that helps consumers avoid a basic irritant of television watching — the commercial.

Dish’s Hopper service, which automatically removes advertisements before consumers view recorded shows, is the latest technology to worry broadcasters. These companies have long reaped profits from a practice that is as old as the television itself — forcing viewers to watch ads before they can see the rest of a show.

But a growing slew of technology firms, from Amazon to Netflix, has roiled the industry by offering programs outside the traditional distribution channels that for years dictated what appeared on the living room television. For far less than what cable companies charge, these upstarts are giving consumers more control over what they watch and when they watch it, while enabling them to easily skip ads. Google, the owner of YouTube, became the latest to join this trend, unveiling a device on Wednesday that pumps online videos and other content directly into television sets.

Such innovations have raised questions about how many Americans are actually viewing commercials these days and cast a shadow over a basic way that television funds itself. Digital video recorders have become so common that many consumers fast-forward through ads. With Dish’s Hopper, people can watch shows free of commercials shortly after they are broadcast live.

Now that Hopper has received greater legal support, analysts expect cable companies, DVR providers and others who distribute television content to quickly offer similar services.

While the business fallout from this is unclear, if it had gone the other way, it would have been incredibly ugly for the end users.

I’m not reflexively supportive of technology, but the record in entertainment is clear:  Not only do innovations benefit the end user, it also creates new revenues for the content providers.

Leave a Reply