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Ah, So THAT’s How Dish’s Hopper Skips Commercials

There is a good and surprising reason why Dish Network’s Hopper DVR with AutoHop works so well.

For real ... there's a man behind the curtain manually skipping Dish DVR commercials for you.
Julie Jacobson · May 22, 2015

I’ve never used Dish Network for TV service, so naturally I’ve never used the satellite company’s Hopper DVR with the infamous AutoHop commercial-skipping feature.

During the recent Connections 2015 conference, Dish senior program manager Dylan Hale was extolling AutoHop, and swearing that once I’d skipped commercials with Dish, I’d never go back to ad-infused content again.

But I was skeptical about the quality of the skip function, which is offered for prime-time shows airing on major networks, and available for viewing after 1 a.m. the following morning.

I had tried services long ago that used screen black-outs – as when a show fades to a commercial and vice versa—with various algorithms to automatically skip ads, but it didn’t work so very well.

Hale assured me that AutoHop was pretty flawless. Here’s why:

There’s some guy behind a curtain that watches every AutoHop-supported show and manually tags the beginning and end of every commercial.

For real.

Someone actually skips these commercials for you, much like you’d do it yourself. This is why you have to wait a few hours to watch the AutoHopped shows, and how Dish manages to skip the commercials without blocking weather alerts or emergency broadcast messages.

Furthermore, the approach is most likely how Dish gets around some real and potential threats by the anti-skip contingent, of which there are plenty.

While the big broadcasters have failed to thwart AutoHop through lawsuits, they’ve been successful in strong-arming Dish (through rebroadcast negotiations) to water-down AutoHop. Both Disney and CBS graciously let Dish air their content if the satellite cable disabled AutoHop until several days after the original broadcast.
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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

News · Connections · Dish · All Topics
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