ABC is talking about employing a technology that would prevent DVR owners from doing what they presumably bought the device for: skipping commercials.
If Mike Shaw, ABC president of advertising sales, gets his way, cable companies would force us to watch ads. "I would love it if the MSOs (multi-system operators), during the deployment of the new DVRs they're putting out there, would disable the fast-forward (button)," he said in an interview Wednesday, according to MediaPost (membership required).
In fact, there are companies out there cooking up ways to do that. Philips recently received a patent for a device that would disable a video recorder from switching channels during a commercial break. There would be an option for viewers to watch the ad or pay a fee to unfreeze the fast-forward capability.
Shaw said he hopes the networks, advertisers and local cable operators will agree on something soon, while DVR penetration is still relatively low--around 10 percent.
Whether he gets his wish remains to be seen, but ABC's ad sales chief sounds pretty convinced that consumers will go along quietly. "I'm not so sure that the whole issue really is one of commercial avoidance. It really is a matter of convenience--so you don't miss your favorite show...People can understand in order to have convenience and on-demand (options), that you can't skip commercials."
Or will they?