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Cable Technology Feature Article

August 27, 2012

Cable Operators May Soon Develop Animosity for Apple if Ad Blocking Technology Hits the Market

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

As consumers we tend to claim we hate advertisements. We want to change the dial on the radio when the music stops and the jingles begin; we TiVo (News - Alert) our favorite shows so we can skip the commercials; and we download the paid version app to avoid the pop-up ads in the free version. But, do we truly want to avoid them altogether? Apple (News - Alert) thinks we just might. 

A recent BGR report highlights technology the company apparently has in the works that will automatically switch a device from broadcast advertisements, taking the user instead to preloaded content. For broadcasters and advertisers, this is worse than the growing success of Netflix streaming. The ad-blocking technique is expected to enrage cable companies everywhere who rely on advertising dollars to drive revenue and support their programming initiatives. 

According to an AppleInsider report, the new patent pertains to a system of “seamless switching between radio and local media”. This capability will ensure mobile devices can automatically switch between stored media and broadcast content, offering the user a customized content experience. The resulting viewing experience is likely set to meet a demand consumers have expressed to cable providers for some time – customized viewing. 

The forced packages standard in the cable industry have left many a paying customers frustrated that they can’t customize their viewing experience through al a cart selections. Will Apple’s technology appease these consumers, to the detriment of the cable companies?Let’s take a closer look at the technology, which is capable of examining the broadcaster’s typical scheduling to determine what elements of an upcoming broadcast or media item will not be of interest to the user. It will then switch the device off to other content

The development of the technology includes any audio or video that can be broadcast by a content source and then received by an electronic device for playback. In other words – the technology can encompass both radio and television. The technology is certainly to be a disruption in the broadcasting industry, and not in a way that benefits the main players. 

Apple may have more than a few fresh lawsuits on its hands if it plans to take this technology to the masses as it has the potential to completely upset the cable business model. And, as a consumer with varying tastes, I’m not sure I would always trust my device to know exactly what content I will find interesting. Some will be a given – I don’t want my favorite show followed by a drag-racing segment. But, what if the commercials include a teaser interesting enough for me to want to stick around? I would still like the option to make that decision – I can always make the switch if I lose interest.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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