We can already hear the mashing of teeth at TV networks, local stations and advertising agencies. Today, DISH satellite TV activated a new feature for its latest Hopper whole home HD DVR system which allows users to automatically skip all commercials on recorded prime-time network programs.
The new Auto Hop capability is an extension of the Hopper's "Prime Time Anytime" innovation. When activated (just once) by the DISH customer, PTA will thereafter record all the primetime TV shows on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in high definition. Hopper then stores these shows for eight days on its massive (2 TB) hard drive, creating an easily accessed (with on-screen menu) library of 100 hours of primetime. (And you can also record two other shows, simultaneously, on other system channels)
By contrast, Auto Hop requires affirmative action from the user at the beginning of each recorded show. A message comes on screen after you've made a selection: "You can automatically hop over this event's commercial breaks. Would you like to enable Auto Hop for this event?" Just click "yes." But if you'd rather keep up with the latest movie previews, car commercials and pouting ladies of Victoria's Secret, just say "no."
We tried out the new feature this morning on a recently installed Hopper system - actually trying it on one of the small, low power "Joey" slave units which gets located in other rooms in the house. Auto Hop worked like a charm on shows automatically recorded last night, including "Criminal Minds," "Modern Family," "American Idol" and "The B**** in Apt. 23."