Apple Baking New Ad-Skipping TV Service

Tim Cook Sun Valley

Report: Tech giant talked to TV firms about paying them for passed-over spots

Apple may be ready to revolutionize the TV business after all.

Following years of rumors of all sorts of newfangled products supposedly in development to take over the living rooms, there’s fresh scuttlebutt that Apple is in discussions to create a service that would allow viewers to engage in ad-skipping. The initial report comes courtesy of former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin.

And here’s the grabber: Apple would supposedly pay the TV networks for the ad revenue they missed out on due to to the skipped commercials.

The particulars are few and far in between, but Apple CEO Tim Cook and senior veep Eddy Cue apparently made the rounds at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley last week talking up the new technology to various entities in the TV business. How much consumers would pay for such a product is unknown.

Such a new technology would put a fresh spin on DVR, which has been a sore spot in the TV industry for the past decade. Few companies besides Apple would have pockets deep enough to compensate an entire industry for lost ad dollars.

While TV networks might not mind Apple chipping in to cover the cost of skipped ads, that’s a product that may not sit well with those on Madison Avenue who need the medium to promote their products to the tune of about $70 billion per year.

Where exactly this fits into Apple’s amorphous plans in the TV space is entirely unclear. While Cook has clearly established that cracking the TV market is a more pressing priority than it was for predecessor Steve Jobs, just what shape that invasion could take is anybody’s guess (and plenty of analysts do just that). The new ad-skipping technology could be part of some yet-to-be-revealed set-top box or screen Apple has yet to reveal to the marketplace.

If the new service is meant to be introduced in the shorter term, then it’s likely to find a home on Apple TV, the set-top device that has been a moderate success for Apple, which is more accustomed to wholesale domination of the categories in which it brings products, from iPhone to iPad. Apple TV seems to have emerged as more of a priority in recent weeks, given news that Time Warner Cable may be the first authentication service to find a home on the device, and the hire of key Hulu exec Pete Distad.

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    Anything to stop an endless barrage of 1-800 numbers being shoved down my throat, cancer treatment, new drug of the day, lawyers suing new drug of the day companies, I’ve fallen and can’t get up, abused animal & ambulance chaser commercials.

  2. Danny says:


  3. Sam Mooney says:

    i’ve always through that anyone who comes up with a device that turned the sound off i can’t stand the volume increase plus have you noticed kids playing in the room will turn and look at tv would make billions but alas this is not it the dvd is still the closest

  4. Shane says:

    I’m with you MeliDe…the company that’s REALLY going to monopolize the Cable/Satellite market is the one that finally offers the option to “buy” the channels you want and leave off the ones you don’t. Why am I paying for OWN or LOGO when there’s no interest whatsoever in what these channels offer? If I could whittle it down, I’d probably only need about 30 channels as opposed to being forced to pay for 200.

  5. MeliDe says:

    What I really want is the ability to pick the channels I want to receive instead of paying for channels I delete and/or never watch. Is that too much to ask? Commercials, when funny, are fine.

  6. This will work just like cable did. After everyone is hooked into paying for it, the ads will come.

  7. George Sparks says:

    They should also develop a way to mute or eliminate laugh-tracks.

  8. I don’t need to pay Apple a cent. That’s what the fast forward button is for on my Directv remote. I enjoy watching all those ads just fly by unwatched and unheard.

  9. This is great because now when people are offended by something they just need to boycott apple instead of hunting down all the shows advertisers.

  10. Mutumbo Jones says:

    I would pay exactly $0 for the service. Where do I sign up?

  11. I think the consumer would welcome the opportunity to not watch the bilge that it network tv…

    • I use my current DVR for that purpose regularly but I am forced to skip forward up to 9 times to get back to regular programming. I do not want to pay for TV and then be subjected to more than 1/3 of my viewing time being from comercials

  12. no says:

    I already have an ad-skipping television service. It’s called bit torrent.

  13. J. Galt says:

    I’ve been waiting for something like this for years. It is long overdue.

    John Galt Take Me With You . com

  14. The Normal-American Community says:

    After a year, they’ll reintroduce it in a differently-colored plastic and the iCultists will buy it all over again. Sheer innovative genius.

  15. The Normal-American Community says:

    They’ll just grab the money from the iCult moonies to fund it, right?

  16. Ein Rand says:

    Apple TV is impressive as a central HD hub where I can easily switch between various services, stored as well as external (Netflix, Hulu, SkyNews, etc.). Commercials are of little concern because like many others I stopped paying BigCable $100/mth. for 200 channels of banality. Where Apple could improve might be more apps. People don’t mind comms so much a la HuluP, if they are directed during chosen content.

  17. naro says:

    I have a better way of skipping ads. I got rid of my cable and with it the vast river of sewer called TV programing. Bye TV –your days are done.

    • bhash says:

      Total agreement. Cable is dying The great tv being made by the HBOs and Showtimes is in my opinion not only destroying regular tv, but is also besting most movies as far as writing, directing and in some cases even cinematography.

  18. Randy G. says:

    forget ad-skipping. apple needs to start its own network with its very own content and programming. it can then own all of the advertising dollars when people tune it to the “apple network”.

  19. Ike says:

    Pay per station is obviously the future. It’s just taking a while to get there. FoxNews viewers subsidize Al Jezeera. ESPN viewers subsidize MSNBC. That has to stop eventually. People wouldn’t mind paying a few extra bucks a month to cut out ads if they save a few bucks from not paying for stations they hate.

  20. Eric says:

    I can already do this with Dish Hopper. Am I missing something?

  21. Danbury says:

    We avoid commercials by (1) pausing and later fast forwarding through the commercials, or (2) watching on ROKU where commercials are passed by, or (3) NOT watching programs that are repugnant, and generally carry a not-so-hidden agenda, by watching DVDs and/or Netflix offerings only.

  22. That will make for a pretty boring Super Bowl.

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