Dish Network Gives Super Bowl Commercials Their Due

Dish Network has a pleasant surprise for those who watch the Super Bowl more for the commercials than the game. "We've decided to flip our user-enabled ad-skipping feature on its head, said Dish SVP Vivek Khemka. Subscribers to the Dish service will be able to record the game as usual on Sunday, but then on Monday, they can opt to skip all the boring sports and just watch the clever commercials.

Dish Network on Thursday announced that subscribers to its satelliteTV service can enable Reverse AutoHop for this Sunday’s SuperBowl. 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 PrimeTimeAnytime 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 goodreason — both are entertaining and our customers love them,” saidVivek Khemka, Dish senior vice president of product management.

“We’ve decided to flip our user-enabled ad-skipping feature on itshead so customers can watch the ads uninterrupted the next day wheneveryone is talking about them,” he added.

Backward Hop

Dish has touted its AutoHop feature to customers since it wasintroduced at the 2013 International CES. When enabled, this featureautomatically skips — or hops — over commercial breaks.

While it won a CES Innovation Award and praise from the media, thisfunctionality wasn’t embraced by the broadcast networks or theadvertising 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 itis 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 Networkdoes,” said Erik Brannon, senior analyst for U.S. television at IHSiSuppli.

“There are a certain number of non-football viewers who tune in thegame just for the commercials, and this is clearly aimed at thatmarket,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Ad Watch

The Super Bowl remains the one event where many people tune in for theads, and Dish could now create a post-game tradition for those Mondaymorning “non-quarterbacks” to take in what they may have missed offthe field.

“This is a unique take on something that a large number of Americansreally enjoy,” explained Brannon.

“We have to remember that these are the most expensive ads on TV, andas such, these are the best produced and are designed to be the mostentertaining,” he stressed.

“While this is sort of counterintuitive, it is true that many peoplecare 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, vicepresident of strategy and insights at the Local Search Association.

“This is about the only event where this is the case, but as thephenomena of commercials has gotten bigger, the advertisers are tryingto 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 viewedtechnology 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 crowto their ad partners and the networks.”

The increased popularity of the Super Bowl ads in recent years hasmeant that these spots are often available online but not alwayseasily accessible. In many cases, the ads online are aimed at the “leanforward” viewers as opposed to the “lean back” type of viewers who maysubscribe to Dish and watch TV in the living room.

“There is now a certain amount of work involved in watching thecommercials online,” said Sterling.

“Hulu and YouTube will have them, but those who subscribe to Dish cansit back,” he added. “The other thing is that ads are now treated likecontent online, where you have to watch an ad to see the ad. This is away 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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