Dish: Watch Commercials to Earn Free PPV

A recent patent win may position Dish Network to offer free premium and pay-per-view content to subscribers that agree to watch commercials.

The invention, “Credit-based television commercial system,” is something that Dish could use to boost revenue from subscribers of its Sling TV over-the-top subscription video service. Eric Holley and Fred Tuck, two engineers employed by Dish Network corporate sibling EchoStar Technologies, are named as inventors on the patent that is assigned to EchoStar.

Abstract: Various arrangements are provided for earning and using credit. Via one or more tuners, a first commercial may be received and stored, wherein the first commercial comprises video and audio. The commercial may be output for presentation for viewing by a user of the television receiver system, wherein the first commercial is associated with a first predefined amount of credit. It may then be confirmed that the first commercial has been viewed by the user. In response to confirming that the first commercial has been viewed by the user, an account of the user may be credited with the first predefined amount of credit. This credit may be used for viewing other content, such as pay-per-view (PPV) content, services, and/or products.

Patent

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Claims: 

1. A television receiver system configured to provide content-viewing credit, the television receiver system comprising: one or more tuners; one or more processors; and a memory communicatively coupled with and readable by the one or more processors and having stored therein processor-readable instructions which, when executed by the one or more processors, cause the one or more processors to: receive, via the one or more tuners, a first commercial, wherein the first commercial comprises video and audio; prior to receiving user input that selects the first commercial, output for presentation a user interface that indicates a plurality of commercials organized into a plurality of categories of commercials, wherein: user input is used to select a category of commercials from the plurality of categories of commercials; each commercial of the plurality of commercials is presented as associated with whether a survey is required to be answered; each commercial of the plurality of commercials is presented as being for a defined duration of time; each commercial of the plurality of commercials is visually indicated as associated with a predefined amount of credit; and receive user input that selects the category of commercials and the first commercial for viewing; output for presentation the first commercial for viewing for the defined duration of time by a user of the television receiver system, wherein the first commercial is associated with a first predefined amount of credit as indicated by the user interface; confirm that the first commercial has been viewed by the user; and in response to confirming that the first commercial has been viewed by the user, credit an account of the user with the first predefined amount of credit.

2. The television receiver system configured to provide the content-viewing credit of claim 1, wherein the processor-readable instructions, when executed, further cause the one or more processors to: receive user input that selects a pay-per-view piece of content, wherein the pay-per-view piece of content is associated with a second predefined amount of credit; receive user input indicative of applying credit from the account of the user to purchase of presentation of the pay-per-view piece of content; determine that a third amount of credit available in the account of the user is equal to or greater than the second predefined amount of credit; and after determining that an amount of credit in the account of the user is equal to or greater than the second predefined amount of credit, commence presentation of the pay-per-view piece of content.

3. The television receiver system configured to provide the content-viewing credit of claim 2, wherein the processor-readable instructions, when executed, further cause the one or more processors to: store the first commercial to the memory of the television receiver system prior to outputting for presentation the first commercial; and store the pay-per-view piece of content to the memory of the television receiver system prior to outputting for presentation the first commercial.

4. The television receiver system configured to provide the content-viewing credit of claim 1, wherein the processor-readable instructions that cause the one or more processors to confirm that the first commercial has been viewed by the user comprise processor-readable instructions which, when executed, cause the one or more processors to: output for presentation, concurrently with video of the first commercial being output, a graphical element prompting user input; receive user input in response to the graphical element; and in response to the user input, output for presentation information related to the first commercial.

5. The television receiver system configured to provide content-viewing credit of claim 1, the television receiver system further comprising: a system credit management engine, configured to: receive, from a plurality of television receivers, indications of the first commercial being viewed; and based on the indications of the first commercial being viewed, billing an entity associated with the first commercial an amount based on a quantity of indications.

6. A method for providing content-viewing credit, the method comprising: receiving, via one or more tuners of a television receiver, a first commercial, wherein the first commercial comprises video and audio; prior to receiving user input that selects the first commercial, outputting, by the television receiver, for presentation a user interface that indicates a plurality of commercials organized into a plurality of categories of commercials, wherein: user input is used to select a category of commercials from a plurality of categories of commercials; each commercial of the plurality of commercials is presented as associated with whether a survey is required to be answered; each commercial of the plurality of commercials is presented as being for a defined duration of time; each commercial of the plurality of commercials is visually indicated as associated with a predefined amount of credit; and receiving, by the television receiver, user input that selects the category of commercials and the first commercial for viewing; outputting, by the television receiver, for the defined duration of time, for presentation the first commercial for viewing by a user, wherein the first commercial is associated with a first predefined amount of credit as indicated by the user interface; confirming, by the television receiver, that the first commercial has been viewed by the user; and in response to confirming that the first commercial has been viewed by the user, crediting, by the television receiver, an account of the user with the first predefined amount of credit.

7. The method for providing the content-viewing credit of claim 6, the method further comprising: receiving, by the television receiver, user input that selects a pay-per-view piece of content, wherein the pay-per-view piece of content is associated with a second predefined amount of credit; receiving, by the television receiver, user input indicative of applying credit from the account of the user to purchase of presentation of the pay-per-view piece of content; determining that a third amount of credit available in the account of the user is equal to or greater than the second predefined amount of credit; and after determining that an amount of credit in the account of the user is equal to or greater than the second predefined amount of credit, commencing presentation of the pay-per-view piece of content.

8. The method for providing the content-viewing credit of claim 7, the method further comprising: storing, by the television receiver, the first commercial to a memory of the television receiver prior to outputting for presentation the first commercial; and storing, by the television receiver, the pay-per-view piece of content to the memory of the television receiver prior to outputting for presentation the first commercial.

9. The method for providing the content-viewing credit of claim 6, wherein confirming that the first commercial has been viewed by the user comprises: outputting, by the television receiver, for presentation, concurrently with video of the first commercial being output, a graphical element prompting user input; receiving, by the television receiver, user input in response to the graphical element; and in response to the user input, outputting, by the television receiver, for presentation information related to the first commercial.

10. The method for providing content-viewing credit of claim 6, the method further comprising: receiving, from a plurality of television receivers, by a server system, indications of the first commercial being viewed; and based on the indications of the first commercial being viewed, billing an entity associated with the first commercial an amount based on a quantity of indications.

11. A non-transitory processor-readable medium for providing content-viewing credit, comprising processor-readable instructions configured to cause one or more processors to: receive a first commercial, wherein the first commercial comprises video and audio; prior to receiving user input that selects the first commercial, output for presentation a user interface that indicates a plurality of commercials organized into a plurality of categories of commercials, wherein: user input is used to select a category of commercials from a plurality of categories of commercials; each commercial of the plurality of commercials is presented as associated with whether a survey is required to be answered; each commercial of the plurality of commercials is presented as being for a defined duration of time; each commercial of the plurality of commercials is visually indicated as associated with a predefined amount of credit; and receive user input that selects the category of commercials and the first commercial for viewing; output for presentation the first commercial for viewing for the defined duration of time by a user, wherein the first commercial is associated with a first predefined amount of credit as indicated by the user interface; confirm that the first commercial has been viewed by the user; and in response to confirming that the first commercial has been viewed by the user, credit an account of the user with the first predefined amount of credit.

12. The non-transitory processor-readable medium for providing the content-viewing credit of claim 11, wherein the processor-readable instructions are further configured to cause the one or more processors to: receive user input that selects a pay-per-view piece of content, wherein the pay-per-view piece of content is associated with a second predefined amount of credit; receive user input indicative of applying credit from the account of the user to purchase of presentation of the pay-per-view piece of content; determine that a third amount of credit available in the account of the user is equal to or greater than the second predefined amount of credit; and after determining that an amount of credit in the account of the user is equal to or greater than the second predefined amount of credit, commence presentation of the pay-per-view piece of content.

13. The non-transitory processor-readable medium for providing the content-viewing credit of claim 12, wherein the processor-readable instructions are further configured to cause the one or more processors to: store the first commercial to a memory of a television receiver prior to outputting for presentation the first commercial; and store the pay-per-view piece of content to the memory of the television receiver prior to outputting for presentation the first commercial.

14. The non-transitory processor-readable medium for providing the content-viewing credit of claim 11, wherein the processor-readable instructions configured to cause the one or more processors to confirm that the first commercial has been viewed by the user comprise processor-readable instructions configured to cause the one or more processors to: output for presentation, concurrently with video of the first commercial being output, a graphical element prompting user input; receive user input in response to the graphical element; and in response to the user input, output for presentation information related to the first commercial.