Study: Dish's Ad-Zapper Could Hurt Networks Worse Than Feared

Share Article consumer survey shows 41 percent of viewers would watch more recorded shows with ads automatically eliminated.

Dish Network's Auto Hop, which automatically eliminates network commercials during the playback of a recorded show, could have an even more substantial impact on advertising revenues than the networks have publicly expressed.

That's according to an exclusive online survey of 921 viewers conducted between June 12 and June 15.

Auto Hop, which was added last month to Dish's new Hopper HD DVR, allows viewers to watch the playback of a broadcast network show without ever seeing the commercials. The networks, sans ABC, are suing Dish over the ad-zapper, claiming it violates their copyright and licensing agreements. Dish has filed a countersuit and a court hearing on the dispute is scheduled for next month.

Network executives have expressed fear that Auto Hop would lead to people seeing fewer commercials during shows they now watch on DVR. But the online survey finds that 41 percent of viewers would watch even more shows on DVR if they knew the device would automatically eliminate the ads.

This would suggest that overall viewing of non-recorded TV could be reduced significantly and so would the viewing of commercials during those shows. Instead, more people would record more shows so they could bypass the commercials more easily.

A recent Nielsen study found that roughly eight percent of all TV viewing is now done via DVR recorded playback. If 41 percent of people decided to watch even more TV via the DVR because they wouldn't have to use their remotes to skip commercials, that eight percent could reach the teens pretty quickly. And once the trend was established, it could grow even faster from there.

Here are the findings from the survey that indicate that Auto Hop could put a greater dent in network revenues than previously thought:

  • Asked if they would watch "more shows" via DVR playback if the commercials were automatically eliminated, 41 percent in the survey said yes. (They survey did not ask how many 'more shows.')
  • Asked if they would like to see their TV provider offer Auto Hop, 70 percent of respondents said yes. Only 13 percent said no while 16 percent said they were not sure.
  • Asked if they would miss the commercials if they were automatically eliminated, 79 percent said no while only 21 percent said yes.

The only silver lining for the networks: 80 percent of respondents said they would not pay extra to get Auto Hop. (Dish now offers it for free.).

Of those who said they would pay something extra, 19 percent said they would pay $2-4 more per month; nine percent said they would pay $4-6 more per month; seven percent said they would pay $6-10 more per month while one percent said they would pay more than $10 per month to get Auto Hop.

The survey was conducted among readers of, all of whom said they watch TV. For more information on this survey, contact: Phillip Swann at 703-505-3064 or e-mail him at swann (at) tvpredictions (dot) com

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