Comcast patent could deliver ads to DVR viewers who skip spots

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ComcastComcast has developed new technology that would allow it to deliver ads to subscribers who skip commercials in TV shows recorded on DVR, according to a U.S. patent application obtained by FierceCable.


Subscribers who hit fast-forward, pause and other buttons on their remotes would receive an alternate ad displayed in the center of their TV screen or by making the alternate ad partially transparent, according to the patent.

Comcast also details a strategy for targeting alternative ads to a subscriber who skips commercials based on demographics and the subscriber’s viewing habits, including “historical choices made by the recipient whether to skip or watch previous alternate content.”

TV and cable networks would be able to charge advertisers a premium for the alternative ads.

“The content provider may charge the advertiser an extra fee to play the alternate advertising during fast-forward operation,” Comcast said in the application. “In other embodiments, however, the content provider may sell those trick mode advertising avails to other advertisers.”

Comcast details several methods for delivering alternative ads to subscribers who skip fast forward. One approach would be to use a DVR containing multiple tuners to download alternative ads to a subscriber’s set-top before he begins watching a program: “This can be done behind the scenes without the user’s knowledge,” Comcast chief scientist Dan Holden writes in the patent application. Holden is named as the inventor on the application, which was published 5/10 by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

No word on how soon Comcast may attempt to put the system in play: “While we regularly file patent applications for a variety of technologies, we cannot comment on their potential use or speculate on whether those technologies would be part of any future products or services,” spokeswoman Jenni Moyer told FierceCable.

See the FierceCable story here

RBR-TVBR observation: It’s a great way to finally monetize DVR viewing. Buyers have always been skeptical that viewers fast-forward their ads in delayed viewing. This not only gives the in-show advertiser an option to make sure their ad gets seen, but other advertisers as well. It could really move the needle for Comcast’s ad sales.


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.