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Hopper – the ad-skipping PVR we wish would come here: Digital Home

No-one likes commercials. Everyone with a PVR skips them. So why hasn’t anyone come up with a PVR that can turn every recording into ad-free nirvana?

They have: it’s called the Hopper, but it’s only available in the USA with the DISH satellite TV network, and we’re pretty confident no-one would have the cojones to launch one over here.

The Hopper comes with Auto-Hop, a feature which analyses your recordings for ad breaks and just jumps past them while you watch.

It’s an almost essential feature for US TV, where even a half-hour show can include three or four breaks instead of the single interruption we get on our commercial channels.

Added to that, it’s got six tuners, so it can record all the major US networks using a feature called Prime Time Anytime. They’re stored for eights days, with Auto-Hop slicing out every commercial.

And if that wasn’t good enough, it’s a networked ‘whole home’ HD DVR which you can watch from anywhere in the home via small IP set-top boxes called Joeys.

There’s more: you can copy old recordings from an old PVR, it’s got a Terabyte of user recording space (like Sky+ it saves a Terabyte for push on-demand) plus an eSATA port to expand your storage, it has an on-demand service and DLNA for accessing your own music and video files.

We’d love one, but it’s hard to imagine anyone doing a UK edition for Freesat (owned by the BBC and ad-supported ITV), Sky (lots of ads), or Virgin Media (lots of commercial TV clients). Maybe for Freeview?

Hopping to television hell

Then again, maybe it’s not such a good idea.

The Hopper won’t stop the glut of talent shows choking the TV schedules because they’re usually watched live.

Instead, it will do the most damage to quality scripted TV like drama and comedy, which are more likely to be recorded.

Advertisers already get twitchy over drama because up to 50 per cent of its audience is already fast-forwarding through the breaks on a delayed view.

If they decide no-one’s watching, they’ll refuse to advertise around scripted TV and there’ll be nothing left except talent shows, game shows and their spawn.