It’s been widely reported that BSkyB (Rupert Murdoch’s company that runs Sky Digital and offers the acclaimed Sky+ PVR box) has been granted a patent on the concept of advert skipping during video playback.
The main talking point from this news has been whether this is in preparation for a next generation of Sky+ box that saves you the boredom of watching adverts (although, arguably, the adverts are more interesting than the programming on many of the channels on Sky). Speculation about how such an “ad skipping” box might work has been rife.
However, I think commentators have missed the real reason for doing this…
Sky have nothing to gain from reducing the amount of advertising their customers see. It’s fair to say most of the 160+ channels on Sky Digital rely on advertising to say viable. With this in mind, I reckon the reason they’ve done this is to stop other people from producing PVR’s with such functionality. Think about it, what does an independent box manufacturer – who is totally unconnected with the programming side of the broadcast industry – have to loose from people skipping adverts? Surely offering advert skipping would be an independent manufacturer’s unique selling point? With this patent, Sky can say “hey, you can’t offer advert skipping functionality in the UK because we own the patent”, thereby preventing the undermining of their adverts.
It’s just like when the big electronics manufacturers like Sony, who also have interests in movie studios, fell into complying with the region-encoding of DVD disks and DVD players. It was the smaller, independent, electronics companies like Kiss that offered “region-free” DVD players as they had nothing to loose from undermining the big boys.