Satellite TV subscribers in 19 cities almost saw major channels go dark over the weekend in yet another dispute between programmers and a new ad-skipping product called the Hopper that has caused war in the TV industry.
With the Hopper, you simply select the commercial-free option and the service uses artificial intelligence to identify programming and then automatically skip the commercials. So you no longer have to use your skip button on your remote after you've DVRed a show.
Unlike the last dispute in July, this time around Gannett -- the programmer in question -- and Dish Network resolved the issue before any channels went dark.
But the Hopper has been a nightmare for networks and content producers. If you eat up the ad revenue, how will you have money to produce new shows?
I say the Hopper is great from a convenience standpoint, but I'm not sure if this is a war we as television watchers are going to win.
Do you remember a 1998 movie called The Truman Show, a fictional account of the life of a guy who was living in a TV show from the moment of his birth? It was like the first look-see into reality TV.
Everything in the show was done with product placement instead of commercials. So, for example, the main character's wife -- who was an actress, but who he thought married him because she loved him -- would do product placement spins in the show.
My point is that ultimately, programming must be paid for in some way. Weaving in products is going to be a part of it. In fact, if you go way back into TV history, every show was sponsored by a particular company. It was the 'So and So Hour Sponsored by Whatever Company.' Well, we're going way past that now because stuff has got to be paid for.
If it were up to me, product placement in shows would be one way to go. I think it's more fun than stopping the show for commercials -- except for those SuperBowl ads, of course!