Philips made news this week with a U.S. patent that is intended to prevent users from skipping commercials. It’s not clear whether this is aimed at “realtime” broadcast, or at recorded content as you’d have on a DVR. According to a company statement, the point is not to force viewers to watch commercials; the technology is designed to let broadcasters charge a fee to let customers skip the ads.
Hmmm, pay to skip or be forced to include the commercials for free. It’s an interesting concept, and it’s not the last new wrinkle we’re going to hear about as content producers and broadcasters and advertisers try to figure out how to make money in this brave new world of television. On the one hand, I expect consumer resistance will be strong against any effort to limit the ability to skip over commecials. On the other hand, the piper is going to have to be paid one way or the other.
My prediction is that IPTV will eventually allow producers to target audiences so precisely that the viewers will be interested in the ad content, and won’t see the commercials as ads to be skipped. I also expect to see a lot more product placement within the programming, both subtle and not so subtle. The Mitsubishi-backing of MTV’s HD channel could be a bellwether example.