Apple’s latest patent hints ‘iTV’ could let you skip commercials

“Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent that allows users to skip unwanted audio and video broadcast segments such as commercials with on-device content like songs, podcasts or other media, possibly hinting at technology headed to the battle for the living room,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“Apple’s aptly titled U.S. Patent No. 8,249,497 for ‘Seamless switching between radio and local media’ describes a system in which a mobile device will automatically switch between broadcast content and stored media to offer the user a type of customized content consumption experience,” Campbell reports. “With the new patent, a device will allow a user listening to content from a radio station or “non-radio media or content sources” to skip past the sections they aren’t interested in, filling the gap with on-board media instead.”

Campbell reports, “Also of interest is that commercials are among the types of content which can be replaced by stored media.”

Much more, including Apple’s patent application illustrations and diagrams, in the full article here.


  1. Bad idea. Let’s face it, nobody likes ads but they very often pay for the content you’re watching. The only alternative is subscriptions but who thinks they’re brilliant? In fact, they usually don’t generate enough revenue by themselves and so often have to go hand in hand with ads.

    If we can avoid the ads, then advertisers will cease to bother paying for spots and subs will have to rise drastically. Either that or the system starts to break down.

    1. You mean like the $100-200 per month the average household pays for Cable? Most of that is handed over to a small cartel of companies that have colluded to bundle shit channels with the mere handful worth watching. We are forced to subsidize mountains of crap just to see the few decent programs on TV.

      There is no free market on TV. There is no competition- you get pretty much the same crap from vendor a vs vendor b.

      A LA CARTE.

      As to ads- I ‘d rather buy a season pass and own commercial free rather than submit to the barrage of commercials. More off putting are the obnoxious lower third superimposed ads that most channels seem determined to ram down our throat. They just piss me off even more.

    1. In the US you get to pay for MTV, BET, CMT, Spike, We, HGTV, Non-A&E, Non-Discovery, Lifetime, Non-History, TLC, Anything Murdoch, Golf, Bravo, E!, USA, Various Redneck Outdoor Channels, and 300 shopping channels even if you do not want them. Add in the non news “news” channels and it’s even worse.

      A LA CARTE.

  2. allows users to skip unwanted audio and video broadcast segments such as commercials

    Yeah right, like our beloved-fearless-leader Corporate Oligarchy are going to allow THAT to happen. They get ticked off by the existence of MUTE buttons!!!

      1. 1) Born in the USA
        2) Live in the USA
        3) What political party is NOT a puppet of our corrupt, self-destructive and utterly stupid Corporate Oligarchy?

        Are YOU perhaps saying that you enjoy your loss of US Constitutional freedoms to the whims of our Corporate Oligarchy? That would indicate you have fascist tendencies, never a good thing. Look up the definition of fascism. Seriously! Go look it up! Don’t be lazy. Go read it! Become enlightened.

          1. The Britishisms have been deliberate lately. My dad is a Brit and I’ve been spending a lot of time with him, I lived and worked in London for some time, I’m writing a series of stories that involve old British idioms/slang, and they keep me amused. I recommend cross-cultural experiences to everyone as it gets us out of ‘the box’. Perspective is ‘everything’.

            1. +1

              Nicely explained and the final thought about x-cultural experiences is so important these days, as we live in a global village.

              As the Aussies would day, “Good on ya, mate.”

      2. Everything is political. The media’s pre-season coronation of the SEC in football is political as is the endless right wing propaganda from CNBC- purportedly a (C)onsumer (N)ews and (B)usiness (C)hannel. It’s so freaking right wing it makes Faux Newz look like Mother Jones.

  3. Tech like this has been around in one form or another for years. I recall some VCR outfit (Go maybe?) had a button that would advance your tape in 30-second increments. Then the broadcasters started airing 20 and 40 second commercials.

    Some other outfit built commercial-skipping into its off-the-air recording technology but they got sued out of business and the patents governing that tech were bought by one of the broadcast conglomerates and quietly buried somewhere.

    If Apple can get away with this, more power to them. The loss of viewing eyes as a percentage of all viewers will be a drop in the bucket.

    What I’d really love to see is some 2-way tech that reports back to the content provider when someone switches channels or mutes the sound when commercials begin. That would give them a feel for which commercials nobody (except for those put to sleep by the content) watches, like any Andy “Stack ’em deep and sell ’em cheap” Mohr car dealer commercials.

  4. Glad to see commenters with their heads on.

    Skipping ads will never happen. The industry moguls won’t allow it any more than they’ll allow custom channel guides that omit all the shows you never watch (you may omit entire channels but not single shows). If a provider breaks the rules (as iTV on the iPhone once did) the industry denies them the use of the listings data (the guide is their #1 advertising portal).

    “commercials are among the types of content which can be replaced by stored media”

    I’m willing to bet commercials will be the ONLY content applicable as anything else would simply be FAST FORWARDING!!

    This is clearly aimed at *targeted* ad space, IE: the ability to place relevant ad material in the media stream of each individual viewer. But hell, who gets excited about targeted ads so lets try to obfuscate it as a “Feature”.

  5. I’m going to weigh in on the side of “I think Apple has figured it out.” And it means the end of commercials. The reason is iCloud. Neilsen Ratings used to be a margin-of-error way of guessing how much audience a show was getting and therefore what to charge advertisers. With iCloud integration to a media document (one TV episode, one news half hour, one movie, whatever) iTunes/Apple can report exactly how many people are watching that, both by raw numbers and by the financial report.

    Let’s be real, after all:
    1) Apple’s growing base of data centers around the US aren’t there for Pages documents in the cloud
    2) TV producers don’t inherently want their programs cut up by advertisements that turn viewers off and away.
    3) Cable companies are putting caps on data usage (as a defensive move) but if they didn’t need to bundle 134 channels to look competitive, they could seriously reallocate their bandwidth to accommodate total a la carte use of their pipes.
    4) If the XXX Olympiad taught the industry anything it’s that consumers (in the US) will grumble but ultimately sit down and watch time-shifted “live” events.

  6. Ad skipping seems to be the popular thing these days. First there was DISH with their Auto Hop, then Aereo came along with their OTA antennas and DVRs and now Apple has jumped into the pool. At some point I hope broad casters get the message that we don’t have time for commercials. I work long, late hours at DISH and the last thing I want to do when I get home is sit through 20 minutes of commercials per hour of TV. I can watch three 1 hour (40 minutes really) shows in 3 hours with commercials but when I skip those commercials it only takes 2 hours!

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