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The State of Automated Commercial Skipping

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the genie-out-of-the-bottle dept.

Television 381

iskqy writes "Even though attention to commerical skipping has gone down since the motion picture studios sued replaytv for it, I've noticed that it appears to be alive and well in some PVR products on the market. ReplayTV PVRs have it (though different from what they got sued for) in what they call Show|Nav (what a terrible feature name!) and SnapStream's Beyond TV has it in a feature they call SmartSkip. In both cases, the user has to press a button to automagically skip a commercial (vs. the original ReplayTV feature which skipped them without any user intervention) but it's basically the same thing. ReplayTV plays down commercial skipping ("jump forward and back between scenes in a show") but SnapStream is more open about the feature ("Skip commercials and other parts of TV shows"). "

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*BSD is dying (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835177)

It is official; Netcraft now confirms: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dying

L0r3 5j0b3rg is on teh spoke! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835183)

Lore Sjoberg is a very spokeful individual.

He is of the much spoke-ness.

w00t

WHO SI L0R3 AND WHY HE ON MY SPOKE???~1` (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835245)

GNAA concedes defeat to TrollKore (-1)

CreamOfWheat (593775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835185)

We members of the GNAA humbly admit defeat. We are a brotherhood of fairy nice boys and know when we are defeated. Long Live the GNAA!

Re:GNAA concedes defeat to TrollKore (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835210)

I agree, we here at the GNAA took on more than we could handle due to our inate laziness, we were unable to achieve FP's. We remain united as a brotherhood smashing sterotypes and proving that athletics and breeding are not what we are all about. Long Live THe GNAA!

Horace Booker III
GNAA Membership #117

automagic skipping (5, Funny)

cerenyx (250774) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835195)

I wish I could 'automagically' skip parts of my life I got bored with/didn't want to endure.

Re:automagic skipping (1)

nucal (561664) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835214)

I wish I could 'automagically' skip parts of my life I got bored with/didn't want to endure.

This is why I stay up all night and sleep through work ...

Re:automagic skipping (1)

zephc (225327) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835398)

Indeed, daytime naps are a good way to fast-forward through life's commercials, like family gatherings, boring classes, boring meetings (though that takes some creativity if the lights are on). For instance, having nothing to do this rainy weekend, I napped through the parts where there was nothing good on TV, i didn't want to play Prince of Persia, and my girlfriend was out of the house (yes, I have an attractive human female girlfriend). Call it laziness, call it depression, but I call it effective energy conservation :-D

Re:automagic skipping (1)

raygunz (577841) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835295)

Geez, if that technology was available (on my LIVO, of course), I'd be a lot more interested in replaying the really cool parts of my life.

Re:automagic skipping (1)

Bob McCown (8411) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835390)

Hell, I want a backup and restore feature, myself. And the ability to edit saves. Yea, my life would be much better...

Re:automagic skipping (1)

vudufixit (581911) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835451)

Life is too short and goes by faster as you get older. Don't wish any of it could be "fast forwarded." (Unless you're serving time in a supermax prison).

You can - just smoke a bowl ;-) (0, Funny)

citizenc (60589) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835464)

You can -- smoke a bowl. :)

420. :P

damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835199)

crap, not first post. oh well, i still think the feature is really good. i'm just waiting for the reply TV hack that makes it automated again. considerin what can be done when people want to hack (xbox linux) i don't think this will be difficult.

~Eric
bettse at onid.orst.edu

maybe im missing something... (5, Interesting)

jtilak (596402) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835200)

This has probably been said already (maybe not) but isnt suing replaytv for giving consumers the ability to skip commercials like suing mozilla for blocking popups?

Re:maybe im missing something... (4, Funny)

TCaptain (115352) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835289)

Don't give the lawyers any ideas :)

Re:maybe im missing something... (1)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835331)

Shhhh! You'll wake the lawyers!

Re:maybe im missing something... (0)

papa248 (85646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835392)

This has probably been said already (maybe not) but isnt suing replaytv for giving consumers the ability to skip commercials like suing mozilla for blocking popups?

Shhh!! Don't give away ALL of our secrets!!!

Re:maybe im missing something... (5, Interesting)

buelba (701300) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835461)

That's actually an interesting analogy. Here are some very vague initial thoughts (yes, IAAL):

A commercial broadcast is a copyrighted work. So you can't infringe on that copyright by creating a derivative work. Deleting the commercials creates an unauthorized derivative work, just like deleting certain scenes of a movie creates an unauthorized derivative work. This is why devices that automatically remove the commercials for you infringe.

But wait, you say, I am not deleting the commercials, I am just skipping them! Actually I am not even doing that -- I am just skipping ahead 30 seconds when I feel like it. If that always happens to come during commercials, that's not my fault. This is where it gets really interesting -- the networks say that the 30-second-skip is an infringing device under the DMCA because there is no substantial non-infringing use for a thirty-second skip ahead. That is, the only purpose that most TV users would use for a 30-second skip is to skip commercials, thus creating an unauthorized derivative work. On the other hand, you could say that 30-second skip is no different from fast-forward, and we know fast-forward has a substantial non-infringing use -- going past stuff that you've already seen or don't want to bother with.

If I wanted to distinguish pop-up blockers from replay, I would say that pop-up blockers are different because (1) the commercials are not integrated with the rest of the site (they change by user) and therefore they are not a coherent copyrighted work like a TV broadcast, and (2) pop-up blockers have a substantial non-infringing use because they prevent people from falling into pop-up traps, which are obviously very bad.

But I'm not sure that argument would win.

Re:maybe im missing something... (3, Insightful)

no soup for you (607826) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835492)

his is where it gets really interesting -- the networks say that the 30-second-skip is an infringing device under the DMCA because there is no substantial non-infringing use for a thirty-second skip ahead

The aspect of the DMCA you're talking about applies to encrypted copyrighted works. When signals get to these devices, they either were not encrypted, or have already been decrypted (with the exception of DirecTivo)

Well, (2, Interesting)

bnavarro (172692) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835526)

It appears that the reason ReplayTV got sued is because the boxes were automatically skipping commercials, without the user's intervention in any way. It could be argued that perhaps a user wants to see the commercials, but were prevented from doing so because the PVRs were doing so without prompting from the user.

Popups, on the other hand, and at least for now, require that a person enable popup blocking, so they are voluntarily requesting to skip "web commercials", and it can't be argued that a user might have missed a "feature" that they wanted to see. When Microsoft's next version of IE automagically disables popups, we'll have to see if they get their hands slapped in a simmilar manner to ReplayTV.

Also, it could be argued that popup and popunder advertisements are really a hack/loophole in the web standards (especially popups that trap on the back & close buttons), and that this was not the intended usage, so a user has the right to take "corrective" measures to disable them.

MythTV (5, Informative)

Tanlain (726943) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835206)

MythTV has had this feature for awhile and it can be set to automatically skip commercials so you dont have to press a button to skip them.

Re:MythTV (3, Interesting)

LightlyToasted (95756) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835269)

I don't find the auto-skip feature to be very useful in MythTV. It gets it right about 80% of the time, but some shows that I watch with lots of black frames (like 24) tend to get confused with commercial boundaries. 80% isn't good enough yet, but it's an awfully cool feature that I'm sure will improve as the product evolves.

state of commercials (5, Interesting)

a1g0rithm (688772) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835208)

aside from the lawsuits, maybe the push for this techology will force the media to step up their game when it comes to the quality of commercials.. it seems that more and more people are watching things like the superbowl - just to see the commercials that promoters spent time and money to develop.. either the quality of the commercials will increase, or they will go the way of the internet banner ad..

Re:state of commercials (1)

worst_name_ever (633374) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835333)

either the quality of the commercials will increase, or they will go the way of the internet banner ad..

You mean, they will be ubiquitous and annoying? Welcome to the future, my friend!

I don't get it (3, Interesting)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835209)

As a TIVO/ReplayTV virgin, how does the commercial skipping operate? Does it skip a certain amount of time ahead? Does it somehow use motion compensation to detect frame changes and stop fast forwarding when the scene has changed a significant amount? Are commercials just a set amount of time and I've never noticed it all these years? Is it more like a VCR system where you have to fast forward and then curse when you went too far, and then it uses scene changes to go back? Any ideas?

Re:I don't get it (2, Interesting)

a1g0rithm (688772) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835231)

well, one of the major flags for a commercial skip is the instant increase in sound decibels for the commercial slot..

Re:I don't get it (5, Informative)

tang (179356) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835283)

Actually, according to everything I've read, there is no actual increase of sound decibels in commericals. Here is an example I cut and pasted from somewhere..
"Technically, the maximum volume is the same for commercials and normal programming. If you watch the audio levels on a VU meter you will see that they peak at around the same level.

The difference is that advertisers make use of various tricks to make the commercials seem louder. Whereas a TV program will have a range of audio levels, commercials do tend to be full-on noisy. Tricks such as compression are also used to maintain constantly "louder" levels and try to attract attention.

So it's mainly a perceptual thing. Although the commercials don't reach a high volume, the way they are made gives the impression that they are louder."

Re:I don't get it (3, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835360)

Also, many commercials have speech which has been edited to increase the speed but maintain the original pitch, so it doesn't sound like a chipmunk on helium and so that you can fit more in. It still sounds pretty funny to me (try and repeat what they just said) but apparantly not many people notice it.

Re:I don't get it (4, Informative)

javatips (66293) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835291)

That and the sound is compressed to reduce its dynamic range. This allow for a higher average volume. (the same technique is used on radio broadcast to have an higher signal to noise ratio)

So by checking the variation in dynamic range of the sound the software is able to guess that some part of the recording is a commercial.

I believe this is the main method used to detect commercials.

Commercial length (1)

skizrule (701743) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835246)

Most commercials come in 30 second slots. Hence, it's common to see both 30 second and one minute spots on prime time television. Once in a while (the Superbowl comes to mind) you may see a 15 second spot.

Re:I don't get it (2, Informative)

splattertrousers (35245) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835252)

Commercials (at least in the US) are usually 30 seconds. TiVo doesn't have commercial skip, but it does have n second skip (where you can define n if you're tricky).

TiVo also has fast-forward, and when you stop fast-fowarding, it jumps backwards a few seconds because it knows you hit the button one second too late.

But I have no idea how the automatic commercial skip of ReplayTV works. I'm pretty sure it is more sophisticated than just skipping ahead 30 seconds. So mod me "+1 informative" and "-1 doesn't know what he's talking about".

Re:I don't get it (1)

Boing (111813) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835455)

So mod me "+1 informative" and "-1 doesn't know what he's talking about".

It's a trick! There is no "doesn't know what he's talking about" moderation! Karma whore! Karma whore! :)

Re:I don't get it (5, Informative)

jcoy42 (412359) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835478)

TiVo doesn't have commercial skip

Sure it does (from the TiVo Community forums):

While playing a recorded show, press Select, Play, Select, 3, 0, Select. You should hear some kind of beeping confirmation tones at the end. The ->| button will then function as a 30-sec skip instead of it's normal function.

Another feature I didn't know about is you can sort the now playing list:

Sorting the Now Playing List (3.0)
In Now Playing, Enter:
(S)low (0)Zero (R)ecord (T)humbsUp

Press enter to switch sorting options.

short cut keys are
1 for normal
2 for experation date
3 for alphabetical

Re:I don't get it (5, Informative)

tang (179356) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835253)

I'm not sure exactly how it works, but I can tell you how it doesn't work:) This is from a 5080 series replayTV, with the auto-commercial skip.
It doesn't use time. The commercials can be any length. It seems to be about 90% effective (with the latest software update, it used to be worse). So while Im watching a show, it almost always skips ahead at the correct time (when the commercial starts) but 10% of the time it will either start about 10 seconds before the commericals end, or 5-10 seconds into the show (in which case, I curse, then use the goback button (whatever its called) that automatically goes back seven (I think) seconds.
Its a neat feature, and it seems like it sometimes works better on some shows than others. For instance, I always had a problem with it working with X-files more than say, Family guy.

Black screen is the trigger (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835422)

It doesn't use time. The commercials can be any length. It seems to be about 90% effective (with the latest software update, it used to be worse).

My old VCR used the completely black screens that preceed the commercial and the resumption of the show.

I might be false... (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835405)

But I think between commercial and normal program there is a single frame of color (a blue frame IIRC) and some other visual info which we do not see but a chip can detect. Now this was some year ago so this might not be either the case today , or even the caser in US.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Wateshay (122749) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835406)

In most cases, there will be a few frames of complete black right before a commercial. I know some of the VCR's that automatically fast-forward through commercials do this, and I'd guess ReplayTV at least uses it as one of its criterian for determining commercials.

Re:I don't get it (1)

nucal (561664) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835432)

I think that you're right about this - a new trend in commercials is to use a freeze frame of the the last scene in an ad instead of complete black so that the end point is not detected ...

Re:I don't get it (1)

cudaboy_71 (620256) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835409)

i dont know for sure either. but, based upon my 2 years of observation of a replay 4000 unit, it appears that commercial advance has an algorithm that evaluates the 'fade to blacks' between scenes.

given that a commercial break is usually a series of quick '30-second scenes' that go dark between, it seems to 'know' that a block of these can be classified as a commercial break.

there are several shows that seem to be able to trip up its scheme: law and order and '24' both seem to come back from commercial breaks to 1 or 2 'quick-cut' scenes. this will cause commercial advance to jump a couple of scenes into the program content. i usually just try to remember to turn off commercial advance when watching these programs--i've gotten pretty adept at tapping the default 'skip ahead' button (~30 seconds) a couple of times along with the 'jump back' (~7 seconds) button to get thru the commercial blocks of these programs.

Re:I don't get it (1)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835467)

As a TIVO/ReplayTV virgin, how does the commercial skipping operate? Does it skip a certain amount of time ahead?

Basically, it involves the folding of time and space; each 30 second skip acutally moves you forward in time 30 seconds. The time is then reclaimed at 2 am while you are sleeping, so you are basically unaware that you are 30 seconds ahead of everyone else (except that, if you talk on the phone to someone outside of your home, you can answer questions before they've been asked).

Unfortunately, you can't skip ahead more than 5 minutes per day or you risk a rupture in the matter/anitmatter containment field in the unit.

It's all very high-tech stuff, and I can't go into any more detail than that, otherwise, I'd have to kill your dog.

Re:I don't get it (1)

HermanZA (633358) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835484)

Usually, there is a signal in the video that allows different broadcasters to insert different commercials, for their regions. Shows that have this on-the-fly feature will skip perfectly. I suppose they also have a few other techniques for shows that don't have it.

More intelligence needed (1)

pwiebe (645436) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835211)

What we need now is something that can learn what a commercial is and automatically skip it.

It shouldn't be too hard, maybe using some of the techniques now used for spam. Maybe figuring out a way to share a known list of commercials with others.

Re:More intelligence needed (2, Insightful)

mcpkaaos (449561) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835326)

If that were possible and it caught on with even mild success, you would simply see commercials integrated with the programs - kinda like back in the what, 40s? Not that the programs are much different from commercials now, anyway.

Flawed business model? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835215)

Sorry, but the networks have no inherent RIGHT to make money. It's wonderful if they can, but if they feel they are loosing money due to commerical skipping then maybe their business model isn't viable anymore and they need to think about change. Nothing makes me more enraged than corporations that seek protection from congress rather than adapting to new market conditions.

Re:Flawed business model? (2, Insightful)

div_2n (525075) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835337)

If you are viewing their network programming they do. They provide you with programming for the low price of watching commercials. You have to pay extra for HBO and other non-commercial channels. For the life of me I can't figure out where people believe they should get TV for free. What makes you think they don't have a right to make money but you have the right to watch free TV?

Trust me when I say that I hate commercials as much as the next person. The does not mean that networks are in the wrong for showing them. That is how they make money.

If you want advertising to go away then you can kiss "free" publications goodbye with the exception of non-profits.

Everything has an associated cost somewhere unless those doing it are not getting paid.

Re:Flawed business model? (3, Insightful)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835417)

When you read a newspaper do you make sure to read ALL of the ads?

THIEF!!!

I'll bet that you even have a pop-up blocker installed on your computer, you evil bastard.

Re:Flawed business model? (1)

Kenshiro (6045) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835423)

For the life of me I can't figure out where people believe they should get TV for free.
Because we own the airwaves, they do not.

What makes you think they don't have a right to make money but you have the right to watch free TV?
Noone said they don't have a right to make money. Not even close! What we're saying is they don't have a right to keep me from skipping commercials in shows taped off PUBLIC airwaves onto my OWN pvr.

If they want to make money, they can make better commercials, encrypt their channel, use cable/satelite, or, as the parent post suggested, find a new way to make money! Wow, what a novel idea.

What they cannot do, is say "I used to be able to make money this way, but now that business model is not viable. Please make a law to keep my business model viable so I can keep making easy money." How asinine!

Re:Flawed business model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835425)

Exactly, I work for a company that has many networks and people don't seem to realize that it does cost money to operate a network. :) If you want to skip commercials, that's fine but expect your cable bill to skyrocket and your viewing options to be limited. I'm sure everyone would like to have to use pay per view for every show they watch on TV.

Re:Flawed business model? (2, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835431)

They have the right to show commercials. They do NOT have the right to expect us to watch them, or to stop us from using technical means to get around them. But I don't think the OP ever mentioned them not having a right to air commercials.

If this ends up being a feature TV watchers like, TV stations will just have to change buisness models. Probably by increasing product placement in lieu of commercials.

Truthfully, I'm surprised that advertisement as a TV revenue stream didn't fail decades ago. Survey results show that it just isn't that effective beyond initial product introductions. And they annoy people. No buisness model thats based on annoying your customers will work once there's an easy way to circumvent the annoyance.

Re:Flawed business model? (1)

Kenshiro (6045) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835474)

Survey results show that it just isn't that effective beyond initial product introductions. And they annoy people.
I don't know... Of course people would say that in a survey. And I often feel that way. But to be honest, most of the time, if my tv is on, it's on while I'm running around making dinner, doing dishes, etc. And if what's on is at all interesting, I find myself hoping for the next commercial break so I can go finish the next step. And yes, since they crank up the volume for ads, I do hear them while I'm wiping the sink.

Re:Flawed business model? (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835453)

>If you are viewing their network programming they do.

They have the right to force you to sit through the commericals?

>For the life of me I can't figure out where people believe they should get TV for free.

Because we naturally rather have it for free?

Re:Flawed business model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835468)

Unless you're using a pair of rabbit ears to get your television signal, you're paying for your TV (whether it be by cable or dish). No corporation has the right force me to watch their programming. This includes commericals. If I only want to watch the first half of The Simpsons, it's my right. If I want to channel surf during commercials, it's my right. If I want to use a piece of playback technology that attempts to automatically skip commercials, it's my right.

Re:Flawed business model? (1)

splattertrousers (35245) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835473)

They provide you with programming for the low price of watching commercials.

They provide us with programming and they hope we watch the commercials. When the government gives a company the right to use a chunk of the airwaves or to create a monopoly (in the case of cable TV), they don't guarantee the company that the people receiving the broadcasts will tune into any particular part of a broadcast.

What makes you think they don't have a right to make money but you have the right to watch free TV?

If the system is public (broadcast TV or cable), then I should have a right to watch whatever portion I want to watch. If the system is private (satellite or DVD), then I will allow the broadcasters to define the rules and if I don't like them I don't have to use their service.

Re:Flawed business model? (1)

archeopterix (594938) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835508)

If you want advertising to go away then you can kiss "free" publications goodbye with the exception of non-profits.
You know what? TOUGH SHIT. Perhaps the paid-by-ads business model is dying. I like this possibility more than the content providers deciding what I can connect to the TV set/VCR/computer I paid for.

Re:Flawed business model? (1)

lfourrier (209630) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835383)

I globally agree, but as, in the land of the free, contrary to socialist Europe, corporations earn money providing a public service (broadcasting news and entertainement) in place of state TV (BBC, France Televisions...).

If they are no longer profitable, the service disappear. So, without national broadcasting, you have to protect them, in the interest of the public.

Note: I don't believe half what I just wrote, but it could be an explanation.

So how does it work? (1)

initsix (86050) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835218)

Do PVRs just skip ahead 2 minutes to skip commericals? Not all commerical breaks are two minutes. Especially commercials during sporting events. Do these PVR's have a way to "sense" when a commercial block is ending or is it just timing? If so, how does it work?

Re:So how does it work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835343)

Replay TV detects the brief period where the screen goes black, just before commercials start and just before the show returns. The feature is great when it works, but it only picks this up on few of the shows I watch.

Sued for skipping adverts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835220)

How American!

I *always* skip adverts. I specifically tape everything I watch (well, except news ) so I can skip them out. If that's breaking the law then sue me.

Commercial skipping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835228)


I've always used this device [hamncheez.com] to mark my commercials in my tapes.

30 second skip vs vcr commercial skip (1)

Savatte (111615) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835233)

I have to say that I much prefer my vcr's automatic commercial skip over Replay's, as long as I am going to be a passive viewer. With the replay, you keep hitting the skip button, until you reach the end of the commerical block, and then sometimes you have to backtrack. Where as with any standard vcr, after you record a show, it goes back and flags commercials, and when you play it, the vcr automatically fast forwards through commercials. maybe not as handy, but much simpler.

Re:30 second skip vs vcr commercial skip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835298)

Where as with any standard vcr, after you record a show, it goes back and flags commercials,

What vcr does that? None I've ever seen does.

Re:30 second skip vs vcr commercial skip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835306)

That is exactly how mythtv works, it goes back and reflags commercials.

They are now working on a change, that will actually cut the comercial out of the file itself.

Re:30 second skip vs vcr commercial skip (2, Informative)

BonrHanzon (411856) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835410)

Older (and now the really new) ReplayTVs have automatic commercial skip. The technology detects the brief black screen before and after the commercial breaks and skips over them automatically.
For me, it works most of the time. The times it doesn't is typically during shows with a lot of black gaps like 24 and Law & Order.

Re:30 second skip vs vcr commercial skip (1)

joel8x (324102) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835494)

With the replay, you keep hitting the skip button, until you reach the end of the commerical block, and then sometimes you have to backtrack.

That was the way it used to be, but they recently updated the software to "automagically" sense the end of a commercial block while your hitting the skip button and it stops (the skip icon changes in the corner of your screen to let you know that it has sensed the end of the block). It works correctly about 90% of the time too.

Advertising "product placement" (4, Insightful)

bludstone (103539) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835236)

So, as people switch to skipping commercials, we will probably see a huge push in product placement in new tv shows. Hell, I was watching some movie channel the other day, and the people who introduced the movie also doubled as salesmen, trying to push some random product on me.

Looking forward to seeing bart's room covered in butterfinger wrappers.

Re:Advertising "product placement" (1)

mahdi13 (660205) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835294)

Ever see Evolution? That turned out to be a 1 1/2 hour build up to a Head and Shoulders commercial!

Re:Advertising "product placement" (1)

splattertrousers (35245) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835370)

One channel near me puts up an ad for some TV maker in the bottom corner of the screen when "Star Trek: Enterprise" (nee "Enterprise") starts. The ad is about 1/6th the size of the screen. It's really annoying.

Perhaps they realize that all the Star Trek geeks have TiVo and are skipping the commercials.

I hope this doesn't become a trend. Having my favorite character on "Friends" holding a Diet Squirt is fine withe me. Having a big can of Diet Squirt appear in the corner of the screen and bounce around would be really annoying.

Re:Advertising "product placement" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835452)

Diet Squirt... god in heaven, that's vile!

Commercials are ok - once (5, Insightful)

cybermancer (99420) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835238)

I welcome the ability for people to skip commercials or advertisements for the simple reason that they fail to deliver on their goal. They only seem to annoy people and motivate them to switch channels.

If a commercial / ad actually imparts information or entertainment value, then I enjoy and look forward to it, the first couple times. Too many commercials /ads are repeated over and over again. If I wasn't interested the first time, then I doubt I will be the 100th time. This is the same way with SPAM. I get 3 offers a day for the same useless products. One thing I really hate about Discovery channel (and others) is that they only have about a dozen commercials that they play over and over and over again.

It is unfortunate that advertisers believe (and possibly rightfully so) that consumers are more likely to purchase a product if they are repeatedly exposed to an ad that does not actually provide information about the product, but instead annoys the heck out of them due to content or frequency of occurrence.

Much like elections, it usually comes down to name recognition.

Re:Commercials are ok - once (1)

a1g0rithm (688772) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835257)

yeah, i only get cbs through the rabbit ears.. them darn car commercials are nothing but endless jingles that make my hair stand on end..

Car ads (2, Insightful)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835404)

Has anyone ever based a multi-thousand dollar car purchase on a car ad they saw? I'm sure some ad exec would bend over backwards trying to make some tenuous psychological argument about "sub conscious choices" or "product awareness" but I think car makers just waste a hell of a lot of money in the end.

Re:Car ads (1)

lucifuge31337 (529072) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835482)

I'm sure some ad exec would bend over backwards trying to make some tenuous psychological argument about "sub conscious choices" or "product awareness" but I think car makers just waste a hell of a lot of money in the end.

IANAAE (I am not an ad exec) BUT, I'd augue that product awareness is exactly correct. Ever buy a car, new or used, and all of a sudden you start to notice that SO many other people have one, when you've never noticed before? Yeah. It's like that. If you don't notice the product really exists, you're not likely to even consider purchasing it.

Whoever has actually based a purchasing decision on a commercial...well....please give me a call. I have some things for sale I'm too lazy to list on eBay.

Re:Commercials are ok - once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835476)

Well my dear sir, maybe you are watching a tad too much teevee then, don't you think?

Dish PVR 501 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835250)

I have the ( now ancient ) Dish Networks PVR 501. it's got a skip forward 30 seconds ( I think ) and skip back 5 seconds buttons. if you're watching a show that's recorded ( or your far enough behind real time ), when you arrive at a commercial, hit the skip forward a couple times and boom, you've skipped the commercials. it's really quite simple.

Skipping ads is nice, but .... (2, Insightful)

fname (199759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835258)

I own a TiVo, and I understand the benefits of skipping ads. However, I don't think this is what DVRs so compelling. Time shifting a show (watching a football almost live from the start after missing the 1st quarter) and season passes (TiVo: Record all new Simpsons episodes and save them all until I delete them. And start the recording a minute early & end it a minute late) are much more useful. When I'm watching something intently, skipping ads is great; when I'm watching TV while doing something else, it sometimes is more of a pain than its worth-- sometimes I fell like I *have* to skip ads.

Commercial skipping is nice nonetheless, although I'm not sure how useful automatic skipping is; I'e never tried it. TiVo also has the ability to skip 30-second chunks of shows. Just start playing something from "Now Playing." Press Select-Play-Select-3-0-Select. You'll hear 3 "dings." Now when you press the "jump-to-live" button, you'll skip 30 seconds at a time. You have to repeat this procedure if the TiVo gets rebooted.

What about the station logo? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835270)

Since so many TV stations now put an obtrusive station logo in a corner of the screen, I think a useful commercial detection device could detect if part of the signal isn't changing.

Teach those stations to clutter up my screen with their crap.

Re:What about the station logo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835449)

And what do you want there in exchange? I big back square? It isn't like the are sending two streams and your TV ovlaps the logo on top of the show. What about transparent logos (NBC's used to be like this). That one changes as the image behind it changes.

What's with extra commercials anyway? (4, Insightful)

questamor (653018) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835272)

I remember back in the late 1980s listening to my parents and their disgust at commercial television stations now having up to THREE advertisements in ad spots, when before it was one, or maybe two on a slow night.

Now, on pay television and free to air, I'm seeing 8-12 advertisements in each slot, and massive amounts of the shows I watch being cut out. Last time I watched X-Files (only because I know it used to be 43 minutes per episode when first shown) the entire show was cut down to 35 minutes. that's eight minutes of the show I want to watch gone, and over 80 advertisements.

Now. What's the difference? What's so pricey nowadays that requires so many advertisements constantly?

Pricey reality television shows. blah.

Re:What's with extra commercials anyway? (1)

ralphus (577885) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835327)

What's so pricey nowadays that requires so many advertisements constantly?
It's not a product that is pricey, it is your eyeballs, everyone else's eyeballs who will watch and the brains behind them that accept the commercial imprinting.

Re:What's with extra commercials anyway? (2, Interesting)

IIEFreeMan (450812) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835340)

What's so pricey nowadays that requires so many advertisements constantly?

Shareholders ?

Re:What's with extra commercials anyway? (1)

ad0gg (594412) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835506)

You know whats funny is that old shows(syndicated stuff) have to be edited to be shorter since they were filmed for more play time.

And now for a brief Commercial Interruption (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835278)

You got the Green Light...
Penis This, Penis That.
Paris Hilton This, Paris Hilton That.
Interest Rates This, Interest Rates That.

Wish I could add Sound For a memorable Jingle.

It worked! (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835358)

Must shop...must spend money...must build debt...buy crap now...

what IS a commerical (1)

psycht (233176) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835285)

How does this technology know what a commerial is, when it begins and when it ends?

Perhaps this'll help (-1, Flamebait)

3lb4rt0 (736495) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835290)

everyone realise that they are being ripped off when a show is sceduled for 1hr but only runds for 40 mins minus the ads.

Ads are just an excuse to save money on the production costs needed to run a full hour long show.

Re:Perhaps this'll help (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835318)

Ads are just an excuse to save money on the production costs needed to run a full hour long show.

Ummm, no. Ads are how a tv station makes money. They have no other sources of revenue. Without money, they go out of business.

The DMCA angle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835296)

OK, time to do Slashdot's favorite pasttime: playing armchair lawyer.

Any insight into how the DMCA may be used to force software and/or hardware companies from incorporating commercial skip feature in their products? For example, can a TV network claim that there is an encryption feature in commercials and because of this encryption, any commercial skip feature is a circumvention device and should be banned?

Let's hear your IANAL-caliber opinions.

Well send out the FBI to collect me... (1)

Phoenix (2762) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835300)

...since I always skip commercials. Hell I should be classified as a totally unamerican freak since I can honestly say that there are full weeks where I don't even see/hear a commercial.

Even worse I don't even have any form of broadcast/cable/sat television signal coming into my home at all.

Horrors! I must be some sort of terrorist freak since I prefer to spend my time reading books. Were it not for my DVD collection and my PS2 I'd not even have a TV in the house.

Send out the FBI! Notify the NSA! Wake up the CIA spooks! Get John Ashcroft's head out of the collective asses of Americans!

The Television Anti-Christ stalks the Earth

A disturbing lack of patriotism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835321)

You have failed to support the American plutocracy. Please report for reeducation.

A "United We Stand/Worship the Military" bumper sticker is on it's way in the mean time.

NOT the end of commercials (3, Insightful)

Guano_Jim (157555) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835303)

Unfortunately, skipping does not mean the end of commercials, just commercials as we know them.

Subtle and not so subtle product placements [foxnews.com] will ensure that we continue to see advertising every time we watch TV, despite our best efforts.

I suggest listening to public streaming radio [radio.cbc.ca] (in ogg format no less) as a wonderful alternative to the tripe Madison avenue continues to shove down your throat.

Unless you like tripe. [tripesite.com] Whatever floats your boat.

The big red button (1)

Confused (34234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835334)

The big red button on my TV-set turned out to be the perfect Ad-skipping device with 100% accuracy. The loss of little content hidden between the commercial can be discounted as negligeable.

How ReplayTV Show/Nav works (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835338)

No I don't work for ReplayTV nor do I sell these. Just providing info...

Having owned a ReplayTV for some time now, I can let you guys know exactly how the commercial skip and the new show/nav features work.

Commercial skip, when on, attempts to detect commercials and skip over them. It uses an unspecified algorithm, most likely relying on fade-outs and black screens. It does not blindly skip ahead x number of minutes.

There is another feature that is quite handy, a button on the remote that skips ahead 30 seconds. Another button will skip backwards 7 seconds. In addition, you can type a number on the remote (like "3") then hit the skip ahead or skip backwards button, it will skip that many minutes ahead or backward.

Another feature is, if you want to skip to a certain portion of the show, and you know how many minutes into the show that portion is, you can just type that number and hit the "skip" button.

Show/Nav works similar to commercial skip, but you have to press the right-direction button. You can also go backwards by pressing the left-direction button. I find it helps to see the time, just to make sure I don't skip too far ahead... so I hit "select" to show the current program time, then hit the right-direction button. If it skips too far ahead, I just hit the left-direction button, then use the other methods to jump over the commercials.

What the replay does. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835350)

I have a ReplayTV, one of the older ones with the automatic skip intact.

What it seems to do is look for a frame which is a very dark black - blacker than a normal 'black' in a show. These usually occur at program to commercial transitions. It then skips forward to the start of the next long block without such a super black frame.

Sometimes its a little overzealous and mistakes a very dark shot inside a show as the start of an ad, and sometimes it fails to catch the start of an ad break. I think it tries to exercise some intelligence, since false positives usually occur near the start of ad blocks. It seems to look for groups of black frames.

In case of a false negative, manually hitting 'commercial skip' takes you instantly to the end of the ad block.

Its a *great* feature, and I'm really PO'd that the newer machines don't have it.

I also have a VCR that does this, but it required post-processing on a recorded show to mark the ads. Once this was done (takes about 15 minutes for an hour show) it would automagically FF through the ads.

Identifying Commercials 101 (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7835352)

It should be easy to identify commercials for skipping. They are the blocks of broadcast time that don't have the Broadcast Flag set.

I want auto skip back!!! (2, Insightful)

akpoff (683177) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835379)

For the children. Seriously. Anyone with small children knows that all the adverts placed in children's television really isn't good for them -- or their parents. The non-stop barrage of advertising really undermines a parents ability to teach their children moderation and selective consumption. With a PVR set to auto-skip adverts it would be a lot easier to limit their exposure to so much commercialism. Of course we have to expect they'll be exposed to some degree and MUST meet our obligations to teach them to be smart consumers but a little auto skip would help in that task. (Even more we should focus on teaching our children to be PRODUCERS.)

Of course this is why the media industry sued ReplayTV into oblivion. Cut out the ads and you significantly cut their revenue and ability to produce the shows. Too bad cable/satellite TV isn't more like the current state of satellite radio -- way fewer ads per program hour! Paying for cable TV seems to only get me more ads targeted to my demographic group.

Skipping Overt Ads Will Lead To Covert Marketing (5, Insightful)

ausoleil (322752) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835386)

While nearly all of us who have PVR's enjoy the ability to skip screaming car salesmen, corporate drug pushers (pharmaceutical companies), incredibly heart warming financial companies touting their trustwothiness, etc. etc. et. all ad nauseum, eliminating them from our entertainment will be all but impossible. In fact, by eliminating the containerized thirty or sixty second ads, we'll instead get blasted by pop-ups and embedded product placements, etc., AND the traditional commercial. In fact, it is already happening. To wit:

Disney owns ABC, ESPN and the Discovery Channel. How often on ESPN does one see "the stars" of that great new hit on ABC? How often does ABC tout programs on ESPN? And now, Discovery is in the act too, offering us "documentaries" on the magic behind Disney World in Orlando. And of course, who owns Disney World? Disney.

Films made by Sony's studios almost always feature Sony equipment when a given character is using his or her PC. Also, the word "SONY" is often in huge black letters on the rear of a monitor, even though they aren't usually so prominent on the products shipped to Joe Consumer from the factory.

Add to that the PAID product placements like Coca-Cola being drunk by a given character. There are many of those.

And finally, the grand-daddy of product advertising discguised as content: NASCAR. Each car is festooned with no less than twenty different sponsors, starting with the make and model of the auto being raced (even they have exactly one part in common with their street version: the roof panel) plus the major sponsor of the driver, plus the minor sponsor plus all the super-minor sponsors not the least of which is NACAR itself. The whole race is a rotating advertisement, one which the competitors are trying not only to beat each other but also to gain the most exposure time for their sponsors. A higher position on the track means more "impressions" for the sponsors on the viewers. Best of all, when a driver is interviewed, he thanks 1) God 2) his crew and of course his sponsors for painting his "Folger's/Viargra/Ford/Taurus" in their colors. The entire event is, in short, an ad.

That's direction we're headed. Like death, taxes and Microsoft security flaws, one simply cannot avoid marketing. It's simply more malleable than are the viewers or listeners of a given content.

How it works (2, Informative)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835395)

Automatic commercial skipping has been around for years. I had the capability on a VCR that I had about 8 years ago. The way it works is that the device looks for the completely black screen that preceeds the commercial and the resumption of the show. Next time you're watching a show, pay attention to that transition and you'll see it. It apparently never happens at other times (well, hardly ever: my VCR was fooled once in a great while by something in the middle of a show or string of commercials). If my Tivo had something like that, it'd be even more awesome (but, the manual skipping using the remote ain't that bad as it is).

Act now! (1)

Drunken_Jackass (325938) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835442)

They have a one-day special 'cause we slashdotted them.

At least they have a sense of humor!

We've been slashdot'ed! Woo hoo! Get $10 off Beyond TV and Beyond TV Kits (with tuner card). Buy Beyond TV for as low as $49.99! Simply use coupon code "slashdot2003" to redeem this special offer. (posted 12/30/2003)

Pick from one of the items below:

The very reason I love my ReplayTV (1)

clmensch (92222) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835446)

Even though I've had a ton of issues with the product quality (two units dying), I LOVE my ReplayTV 5080 for three reasons:

1. Automatic Commercial skips WORKS. (It works best when a show has "bumpers".)

2. Networking...with DV Archive I can offload shows onto unlimited drive space and/or burn to DVD.

3. Component video...yes I know the source is only S-Video, but there is an unquestionable increase in quality. I have both s-video and component outs hooked up, and there IS a difference.

I also prefer the ReplayTV Interface. It doesn't have those cutesy annoying Tivo noises.

Better yet... (1)

blixel (158224) | more than 10 years ago | (#7835483)

Automatic skip commercial recording all together... save me several hours of wasted hard-drive space.
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