Charging for commercial skip?


#1

So there is a recent post on Reddit claiming that Tablo posted on Facebook that they considering charging for commercial skip. I don’t see anything here and I couldn’t find it on Facebook. Is this true?


#2

Yes, it is being considered.


#3

Commercial skip will be launched as a public beta.

Unlike other features we’ve rolled out, this does have an inherent cost for the servers etc. Until we have a good understanding of what that cost will be when it’s fully rolled out, we can’t fully commit to it being included in our existing subscription structure.


#4

Thanks for the link, I missed that one.


#5

Ok, that’s understandable. I hope besides the beta you offer a trial period once the feature is fully baked. I’ve found some commercial skip products don’t work consistently, and wouldn’t pay for something unusable. Just a thought, good luck with it.


#6

We hear you. That’s the other reason we’re rolling it out as a beta.

We want to give people an opportunity to experience what it’s like on their own implementation as signal quality is a critical factor in the quality of the skip creation.


#7

OMG!!! So I was right. It’s something they could, and may, monetize–just like how Hulu monetizes the ad-free experience.

Those of you who denied it and denigrated me to my face for even suggesting it, you may now apologize.


#8

It’s much different from Hulu. If you don’t pay for the ad-free experience on Hulu, you have to wait for the ads to play on each show. On the Tablo, the commercial skip is just automating what everyone here can do manually.

I don’t think of the Tablo folks as trying to monetize on commercial skip as much as trying to offset the cost of the software and hardware needed to make it happen.


#9

Conceptually, it’s exactly like Hulu. Pay us for the convenience of not spending your time dealing with ads. In the case of Hulu, you have to watch them; in the case of the DVR, you either watch them or you do the FF/RW/FF/RW/FF/FF dance to get to the next program segment.

Either way, if they charge for the commercial skip, ads are something you either deal with, or pay to remove having to deal with them.

If you want to get down into the weeds and declare that Hulu is different than Tablo because of this and that, that’s fine. It doesn’t change the concept for the end user–deal with ads, or pay the vendor for the privilege of not having to deal with ads.

That’s a fanboi excuse if ever I heard one.


#10

Doesn’t Hulu receive ad money to include them? And then offers you the ability to not have the ads by paying them. Tablo isn’t receiving any of the ad money from the commercials – they’re simply offering to help you skip them, maybe for free, maybe for a nominal fee. In either case, I see a huge difference here. And I don’t even care about commercial skipping.


#11

If tablo decides commercial skip is a premium service it seems that the choices are fairly clear.

Users have lived without tablo having commercial skip built-in for years. You can either continue and use the tablo product without commercial skip, pay a premium for the feature, use a ripper hooked into comskip, or move on to another product.


#12

You’re seeing a difference that doesn’t make a difference.

Joe End User can pay Hulu for an ad-free experience. “Oh, here’s a DVR that provides an ad-free experience. $4/month, just like Hulu? That must be the going rate.”

The end result is exactly the same–Joe End User pays some amount of money for an ad-free experience.

Just like Skinner, nobody cares what’s inside the box that generates the desired outcome at the price point.


#13

Gee, weren’t you one of those beating me up recently for daring to suggest that such a feature might cost the end user money??

And now it’s just “well, that’s OK, it’s just what it is”.


#14

Yes, nobody is arguing that it’s not the same result for the end user. But you seem to be offended that they would dare “monetize” it. Big difference between Tablo charging to institute an optional feature that is costing them money, and Hulu charging to bypass a revenue stream for them.


#15

And let’s not call the Tablo “ad-free” even with commercial skip. Live Tv will always have ads. The ads also still are in the recordings, but flagged for those devices that can bypass them (which is only TV set top boxes for now).


#16

I’m curious what the infrastructure costs look like. Processing every possible recording does seem to pose a challenge, but I think there is a simple compromise.

Dish, for example, has an Autohop feature to skip commercials but it only works on prime time recordings for the 4 major US networks. You don’t get the feature for any other recording, and that is why it is free. All they have to do is process 4 hours of content across 4 networks each day and they have the commercials mapped for everyone. It should not be that expensive to process 16 hours of content each day.

So here’s a crazy idea. Give commercial skip for primetime shows on major networks for free. Charge extra to expand the commercial skip feature to any recording on any channel because that is where your costs could get out of control.


#17

I was in software R&D for 45 years. I would never suggest that a company shouldn’t recoup costs plus profit margins.

In fact I’ve always suggested that previous features that tablo gave away should have been charged for.


#18

To be honest I kind of assumed they would eventually start charging for it.

The fact that I have a choice is what I’m happy about. If they happen to be able to include it without charging additional for anyone with a subscription, great. If they end up needing to charge, then I just decide the value of my time to manually skip a commercial break (let’s be honest, with the thumbnails it doesn’t take much time) and whether it’s a good investment.

I do agree with the others though that this and Hulu ad-free are not really the same. Now, if Hulu had an option that allows you to easily fast forward through the commercials, that’s a fair comparison. Otherwise, with Hulu it’s either don’t pay and you have to wait for them to play (see value of time above) or pay and you don’t see them at all.

So I really think the root issue is you are not seeing a difference that is clearly there (at least the way I understand Hulu works).


#19

I think you nailed the difference right here. I honestly don’t see how Tablo will get away without charging something. I wish they could/would, but I don’t see it happening. Servers and bandwidth aren’t free.

I hope the cost is reasonable enough that it can be an add-on that is justifiable. It doesn’t take much to skip commercials by pushing a few buttons. While certainly a nice feature, it would be hard to justify paying much for it. The guide data is one thing, it would be hard for me to live with just manual recordings and 24-hour guide (and that is only $5/month). If the ad-skipping feature were more than that, it would be a hard pass. I’m not THAT lazy.

I think the problem with this is that every market is going to have different commercials, even for the major networks for prime time shows. I like the idea, but does the Tablo technology work if the commercials are different in the local markets? Maybe if they are the exact same length it would still work? Certainly could be a way to reduce server and bandwidth requirements if it worked that way.


#20

Each affiliate can do their own local insertion of commercials, but the national broadcast of a show has the exact same commercial timings. Tablo needs to find those timings once - it doesn’t matter what is shown during those segment in each market.

And past that, most shows have a standard format so you can almost predict when the commercials will occur for a given show week after week. They should be able to get very efficient and do an optimistic hunt within very specific timings.