Potentially following the lead of Dish Network’s automatic ad-skipping feature on the Hopper whole-home HD DVR system, DirecTV CEO Michael White spoke at the Reuters Global Media and Technology Summit this week and stated that the company may launch a feature that would allow customers to skip past all commercials on network television. According to White, DirecTV management is waiting to see the outcome of the legal battle between Dish Network and several major broadcast networks such as NBC, FOX and CBS. Dependent on the court’s decision regarding legality of the technology, DirecTV could launch the ability to skip commercials soon in order to compete more effectively against Dish Network.
DirecTV has the ability to roll out ad-skipping technology to customers quickly since the company purchased the rights to ReplayTV during 2007. ReplayTV fell into legal trouble during 2001 when the television networks sued the company over providing consumers the ability to watch television programs without commercials using ReplayTV’s “Commercial Advance” feature.
In addition, ReplayTV allowed consumers to trade programs using the “Send Show” feature. Drawing some similarities to social networking, ReplayTV customers could send premium television programming, like HBO shows, to friends that didn’t subscribe to HBO.
Beyond the commercial skipping technology, White also mentioned that the company is working on the development of applications that allow consumers to use voice commands to replicate the actions of a simple remote control. The company plans to launch this application on both the iOS and Android platforms. By design, the application will allow a consumer to change the channel by stating the name of the program. DirecTV management didn’t indicate if the remote control functions will be built into the existing DirecTV app that allows consumers to program the home DVR from a remote location or order movies. In addition, the Android version of the application allows DirecTV customers to watch programming.