Rovi Invents ‘Forced Advertising’ System

Interactive program guide technology vendor Rovi Corp. won a U.S. patent for an invention that pay TV distributors could use to force viewers who attempt to hit fast forward or change channels during a commercial to watch an ad.

Rovi’s system could also allow distributors to replace ads placed by national cable networks with alternate commercials. “It is desirable to provide methods and systems for forcing advertisements on viewers,” Rovi states in the patent.

Jenks, Okla.-based inventor Johnny B. Corvin is named as inventor on the Rovi patent, titled, “Methods and systems for forced advertising.”

Abstract: Methods and systems for forced advertising are provided. These methods and systems determine when a forced advertisement is to be presented, determine what forced advertisement is to be presented, and control how the forced advertisement is to be presented. A forced advertisement may be received prior to the time at which the forced advertisement is to be presented or when needed. The forced advertisement may be presented when certain broadcast advertisements are being broadcast, at certain times of the day, or at certain times within a program. The forced advertisements may be selected based upon content of a replaced broadcast advertisement, content of a nearby program, or independently of any broadcast-related factors. Finally, forced advertisements may be presented so that a television viewer cannot escape viewing the advertisement by changing channels or turning off the television.

Patent

Claims:

1. A method for generating a display of alternate media content, the method comprising: generating a display of a video stream on a user equipment, wherein the video stream comprises an advertisement and a first video stream length; receiving an indication to generate a display of an alternate media content during said display of the video stream; interrupting said display of the video stream, wherein the video stream is buffered for a period of time required to fully play the alternate media content without stopping transmission of the video stream to the user equipment; generating a display of the alternate media content on the user equipment; removing the advertisement from the video stream to generate a second video stream length that is substantially the same as the first video stream length, wherein the advertisement occurs after displaying the alternate media content; and automatically unbuffering the video stream and reverting to generating a display of the video stream from the point of interruption.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein generating a display of the alternate media content comprises generating a display of the alternate media content as an overlay on the video stream.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the advertisement is a first advertisement and the alternate media content is a second advertisement.

4. The method of claim 1, further comprising: receiving the video stream from a first media content source; and receiving the alternate media content from a second media content source that is different from the first media content source.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the first media content source corresponds to a broadcaster of the video stream, and the second media content source corresponds to a distributor of the video stream.

6. The method of claim 1 further comprising disallowing a channel switch while the alternate media content is being displayed.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the alternate media content is a modified version of at least a portion of the video stream.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the modified version is selected based on a user profile of a viewer of the video stream.

9. The method of claim 1, further comprising storing the alternate media content on the user equipment.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein generating a display of the alternate media content comprises automatically generating a display of the alternate media content when the user equipment is turned on, if a previous display of the alternate media content was interrupted by turning off the user equipment.

11. The method of claim 1, wherein interrupting the video stream comprises interrupting the video stream during a scheduled advertisement slot for an advertisement included in the video stream.

12. The method of claim 1, further comprising selecting the alternate media content based on program content in the video stream.

13. The method of claim 1, wherein receiving an indication comprises detecting the inclusion in the video stream of an advertisement that belongs to a particular category.

14. The method of claim 1, wherein receiving an indication comprises detecting a signal in the video stream.

15. The method of claim 1, wherein receiving the indication comprises receiving an indication to generate a display of the alternate media content at a time that is relative to a length of program content in the video stream.

16. The method of claim 1, wherein receiving an indication comprises receiving an indication to generate a display of the alternate media content periodically.

17. The method of claim 1, wherein the advertisement is a first advertisement and the alternate media content comprises a second advertisement, and wherein the second advertisement is selected based at least in part on the first advertisement.

18. A system for generating a display of alternate media content, the system comprising a computer processor configured to: generate a display of a video stream on user equipment, wherein the video stream comprises an advertisement and a first video stream length; receive an indication to generate a display of an alternate media content during said display of the video stream; interrupt said display of the video stream, wherein the video stream is buffered for a period of time required to fully play the alternate media content without stopping transmission of the video stream to the user equipment; generate a display of the alternate media content on the user equipment; remove the advertisement from the video stream to generate a second video stream length that is substantially the same as the first video stream length, wherein the advertisement occurs after displaying the alternate media content; and automatically unbuffer the video stream and revert to generate a display of the video stream from the point of interruption.

19. The system of claim 18, wherein the processor is configured to generate a display of the alternate media content as an overlay on the video stream.

20. The system of claim 18, wherein the advertisement is a first advertisement and the alternate media content is a second advertisement.

21. The system of claim 18, wherein the processor is configured to disallow a channel switch while the alternate media content is being displayed.

22. The system of claim 18, wherein the alternate media content is a modified version of at least a portion of the video stream.

23. The system of claim 22, wherein the modified version is selected based on a user profile of a viewer of the video stream.

24. The system of claim 18, wherein the processor is configured to store the alternate media content on a storage device at the user equipment.

25. The system of claim 18, wherein the processor is configured to select the alternate media content based on program content in the video stream.

26. The system of claim 18, wherein the processor is configured to receive an indication by detecting the inclusion in the video stream of an advertisement that belongs to a particular category.

27. The system of claim 18, wherein the processor is configured to receive an indication by detecting a signal in the video stream.

28. The system of claim 18, wherein the processor is configured to receive the indication to generate a display of the alternate media content at a time that is relative to a length of program content in the video stream.

29. The system of claim 18, wherein the processor is configured to receive an indication to generate a display of the alternate media content periodically.

30. The system of claim 18, wherein the advertisement is a first advertisement and the alternate media content comprises a second advertisement, and wherein the second advertisement is selected based at least in part on the first advertisement.