Dish: Using TV ads to sell ad-free TV?

To circumvent those pesky TV ads, Dish Network, a satellite TV service, recently introduced a DVR with an ad-skipping feature. The new recorder is called the “Hopper” because, you see, it “hops” ads.

To promote its new ad-jumping technology, Dish resorted to, well … advertising.

Advertising on TV. On radio. In newspapers.

Which means what? That “interruptive” advertising works?

And while some media channels are taking the money, networks NBC and Fox have rejected the anti-advertising ads.

In a full-page ad in The New York Times, Dish responded to the ad embargo: “It’s not about skipping commercials. It’s about having the choice. The TV networks don’t see it that way and banned our commercials. See the ads they refuse to air at dish.com/choice.” (You can watch a couple of them below.)

Finally, NBC, Fox and CBS filed a lawsuit against Dish. The networks argue that the Hopper violates copyright laws. “Dish simply does not have the authority to tamper with the ads from broadcast replays on a wholesale basis for its own economic and commercial advantage,” NBC said.

Further, the networks say ad-skipping jeopardizes the entire TV industry because advertising underwrites free programming. “I can’t produce premium shows like CSI without advertising,” CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said.

The probable outcomes of this feud are:

  • Some networks may pull their programming from Dish.
  • The networks will get more creative about including advertising within the shows themselves, such as through product placement. (Notice those Cokes the American Idol judges are drinking?)
  • Someday, consumers may be charged to watch the shows they now see for free. According to a post at Los Angeles Times, a consulting firm figured each household would have to pay nearly $50 more per month — on top of the monthly cable service bill — if TV commercials go completely away.

There’s one other solution that only a handful of marketers successfully practice: Make commercials people want to watch.

This entry was posted in advertising.

9 Responses to Dish: Using TV ads to sell ad-free TV?

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  9. javi says:

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with DISH choosing to offer the customer something they want and, to some degree, already have the power to do. People have been fast-forwarding through commercials since the advent of the VCR, and Cable TV was originally designed to SAVE customers the constant barrage of ads on OTA TV. I just got the Hopper after a DISH coworker let me in on the Autohop secret, and it is fantastic being able to save so much time watching my DVRs. Networks WILL have to come up with something more creative, because TV Networks and Customers MUST have some semblance of symbiosis for the industry to survive.