If you’re a parent with a family that enjoys watching sports on TV, but doesn’t want the children to be subjected to an onslaught of ads about a magic blue pill for men and other spots tailored for adult audiences, then a startup called MyTVChoice thinks it has an ad-skipping system for you.
Rather than skipping ads in recorded shows — the specialty of Dish Network’s controversial AutoHop feature — MyTVChoice lets its users skip the ads of select live TV shows, including national broadcasts of National Football League, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, college football and Major League Baseball games, as well as shows such as American Idol, The Voice and Dancing With the Stars. MyTVChoice also monitors regional televised sporting events in Boston and plans to add other regions, company founder and CEO Rich Theriault said.
MyTVChoice’s system is capable of monitoring all channels, but to keep costs in check early on, its primary focus will be on sports, Theriault said.
The service centers on the MyTVChoice Gateway, a home-side, Wi-Fi-connected device/channel switcher that talks to company-operated, cloud-based servers that monitor broadcast TV feeds and uses special algorithms that are capable of detecting the start and end of commercials. The gateway itself is free, but the monitoring and channel-flipping component runs $9.95 per month.
Once the gateway is hooked up, the user taps into a mobile app to set up the system and to select the alternative channel to switch to during the commercial breaks. Once the advertising segment is over, the gateway automatically switches back to the original channel.
“It’s done remotely, and the information is pretty accurate,” Theriault said.
Dish’s AutoHop is under siege by the broadcasters over copyright violation claims, but those same programmers so far have left MyTVChoice alone. Theriault thinks that’s partly because MyTVChoice has but a few subscribers (he declined to disclose the number, but noted that service was introduced just a couple of months ago). He also argues that MyTVChoice’s approach is perfectly legal from a copyright sense because the system does not manipulate TV content in any way.
“You would have to outlaw channel-switching,” he said. “We don’t touch the material … we’re not about destroying advertising.”
MyTVChoice is currently selling its product directly to consumers via its Web site, but is working on retail relationships. Further out, Theriault would like to see his company’s technology integrated with remote controls and smart TVs.
The “MyChoiceTV” product will allow viewers to skip adult-themed ads in select national sports telecasts.