With more people having DVRs or other devices that let them skip past TV commercials, Microsoft has recently filed a patent on a system that would charge you for not watching commercials by upping the price of on-demand movies based on the number of commercials you’ve skipped.
An example offered by Microsoft’s filing: “…if a user initiates a navigation control input to advance past (e.g., skip over) an advertisement, the cost of a requested on-demand movie may be increased.” Sounds great, right?
Another example: “…if a user initiates a replay of a sporting event, the user may be charged for the replay control input and for each subsequent view control input.” That’s right, rewinding to see or hear something you missed could mean cash out of your pocket (and even more when you try to get your program going again, apparently).
It’s a pretty nefarious idea when it comes to remotes at home, of course, but realistically something like this would probably only make it into hotels and the like, where there’s a lot of pay-per-view content. Worst case scenario, to my mind: set-top boxes start coming with special remotes with this functionality.
Obviously, filing a patent doesn’t mean there will ever be such a product coming to market, but I’m sure quite a few TV stations and cable companies would get perpetual boners if someone made this a reality.