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Dish Network Gives Super Bowl Commercials Their Due

By Peter Suciu
Jan 29, 2015 5:02 PM PT

Dish Network on Thursday announced that subscribers to its satellite TV service can enable Reverse AutoHop for this Sunday's Super Bowl. This feature will enable viewers with the Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR to watch the commercials alone without having to fast-forward through the game.

To utilize Reverse AutoHop, customers need only have the PrimeTime Anytime feature enabled for NBC prior to the game's kickoff. Then, beginning on Monday, they will have the option to automatically jump to the commercial spots. Viewers can rewatch the game in its entirety by turning off the AutoHop feature.

"This day is about two things: football and commercials, and for good reason -- both are entertaining and our customers love them," said Vivek Khemka, Dish senior vice president of product management.

"We've decided to flip our user-enabled ad-skipping feature on its head so customers can watch the ads uninterrupted the next day when everyone is talking about them," he added.

Backward Hop

Dish has touted its AutoHop feature to customers since it was introduced at the 2013 International CES. When enabled, this feature automatically skips -- or hops -- over commercial breaks.

While it won a CES Innovation Award and praise from the media, this functionality wasn't embraced by the broadcast networks or the advertising industry. In fact, last month's negotiations resulted in Dish disabling AutoHop on CBS programming.

For the big game, Dish will optimize the functionality so that it is about the ads -- and it could score big in the process.

"No one else has the ability to do it in the way that Dish Network does," said Erik Brannon, senior analyst for U.S. television at IHS iSuppli.

"There are a certain number of non-football viewers who tune in the game just for the commercials, and this is clearly aimed at that market," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Ad Watch

The Super Bowl remains the one event where many people tune in for the ads, and Dish could now create a post-game tradition for those Monday morning "non-quarterbacks" to take in what they may have missed off the field.

"This is a unique take on something that a large number of Americans really enjoy," explained Brannon.

"We have to remember that these are the most expensive ads on TV, and as such, these are the best produced and are designed to be the most entertaining," he stressed.

"While this is sort of counterintuitive, it is true that many people care about the ads more than the game -- and depending on how the game goes, may talk more about the ads on Monday," said Greg Sterling, vice president of strategy and insights at the Local Search Association.

"This is about the only event where this is the case, but as the phenomena of commercials has gotten bigger, the advertisers are trying to get as much [as possible] back on their investment," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Ad Play

Dish could score with the same advertisers that viewed technology such as the AutoHop as a threat to their business.

"This stunt gives them something to give back to the advertisers," noted Brannon. "Every bit of measured uplift will allow Dish to crow to their ad partners and the networks."

The increased popularity of the Super Bowl ads in recent years has meant that these spots are often available online but not always easily accessible. In many cases, the ads online are aimed at the "lean forward" viewers as opposed to the "lean back" type of viewers who may subscribe to Dish and watch TV in the living room.

"There is now a certain amount of work involved in watching the commercials online," said Sterling.

"Hulu and YouTube will have them, but those who subscribe to Dish can sit back," he added. "The other thing is that ads are now treated like content online, where you have to watch an ad to see the ad. This is a way to get around that, and some viewers may find that desirable."

Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and fitness-related trends for more than a decade. His work has appeared in more than three dozen publications, and he is the co-author of Careers in the Computer Game Industry (Career in the New Economy series), a career guide aimed at high school students from Rosen Publishing. You can connect with Peter on Google+.

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