Dish touts new 'Auto Hop' commercial-skip feature

Dish has announced that users of its new Hopper DVR will be able to automatically skip commercials in recorded prime-time HD programs from the four major networks.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
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David Carnoy
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The Dish Hopper multiroom DVR now allows you to skip the commercials in shows recorded with the DVR's PrimeTime Anytime feature. Dish Networks

What feature have viewers been waiting for since the "beginning of television?"

According to Dish, it's commercial-free TV, and it's added a new "Auto Hop" feature to its Hopper HD DVR system that allows you to jump over all commercials in recorded prime-time programs from ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC when viewed a day after airing.

We're not sure exactly how the new feature will work (will you press a button to skip commercials or will they simply be automatically stripped out?), but it's being activated today, so we'll know soon enough.

"Auto Hop" is an extension of the Hopper's PrimeTime Anytime capability, which has to be manually activated and sets the DVR to automatically record every night the four major networks' prime-time programming in HD. The shows are stored for eight days after they've aired, creating what Dish calls "an on-demand library of approximately 100 hours of primetime TV shows."

Now you'll be able to skip the commercials when watching that programming.

We have a feeling network executives won't be too thrilled with this development (note: CNET is owned by CBS). It appears that Dish is circumventing the rules for stripping out commercials from content by making the feature something the user has to manually enable (it's not a default setting) and only allowing "auto" skipping a day after shows air.

Dish is hosting a media conference call later today with CEO Joe Clayton to talk about the new Auto Hop feature. We'll provide additional details as we get them.

Update: During the conference call, Vivek Khemka, Dish's Vice President of Product Management explained that the skip feature, when enabled, would eliminate commercials without the user having to press a button. Occasionally users might see a brief flash when the commercial skip occurred, but overall the jump would appear seamless. When asked whether networks might create technology or change the terms of their transmission agreements to counter Auto Hop, Dish CEO Joe Clayton said that anything was possible, but at the end of the day, Dish was, "Just giving the consumer what he wanted."