Verizon Eyes Automated Commercial Skipping

Verizon has designed a system that could allow FiOS TV subscribers to program their set-tops to automatically change channels when a commercial break is detected.

The invention, outlined in a U.S. patent published on Tuesday, may be cheered by consumers. But the technology could pose challenges for content owners who are already grappling with ways to reach viewers who use DVRs to skip commercials.

“Implementations described herein may assist a set-top box in switching from an anchor channel, when a commercial break is detected for the anchor channel, to another channel that is not in a commercial break. Furthermore, the set-top box may detect that the commercial break for the anchor channel has concluded, and may return to the anchor channel,” Verizon states in the patent application.

Dehai Ren, a Boston-based Verizon manager, is named as inventor on the patent, titled, “Live Channel Switching And Return During Commercial Breaks.”

Abstract: A device may detect a commercial break for a channel. The channel may be provided for output to a user. The device may determine another channel to provide based on detecting the commercial break for the channel. The other channel may not be associated with a commercial break. The device may provide the other channel for output to the user. The device may monitor the channel to detect that the commercial break for the channel has ended. The device may provide the channel for output to the user based on detecting that that the commercial break for the channel has ended.

Claims:

  1. A device, comprising: one or more processors to: determine a set of preferred channels; detect a commercial break for a first channel, the first channel being provided for output to a user via an output device; determine another channel to provide, from the set of preferred channels, based on detecting the commercial break for the first channel, the other channel not being associated with a commercial break; provide the other channel for output to the user via the output device; monitor the first channel to detect that the commercial break for the first channel has ended; record the first channel; determine that a user device is not within a particular proximity of the output device, the user device being different than the output device; provide an indication to the user, via the user device, that the commercial break for the first channel has ended based on the user device not being within the particular proximity of the output device; receive a request to return to the first channel from the user based on providing the indication to the user that the commercial break for the first channel has ended; determine a starting playback position in the recorded first channel based on the request to return to the first channel, the starting playback position being associated with detecting that the commercial break for the first channel has ended; and provide the recorded first channel at the starting playback position for output to the user via the output device.
  1. The device of claim 1, where the one or more processors are further to: receive, from the user device, information that identifies a set of channel type preferences; and where the one or more processors, when determining the set of preferred channels, are further to: determine the set of preferred channels based on the set of channel type preferences.
  1. The device of claim 1, where the one or more processors are further to: receive information identifying one or more viewership metrics; and where the one or more processors, when determining the set of preferred channels, are further to: determine the set of preferred channels based on the one or more viewership metrics.
  1. The device of claim 1, where the one or more processors are further to: tune to the other channel; process a data stream associated with the other channel; determine that the other channel is not in a commercial break based on processing the data stream associated with the other channel; and where the one or more processors, when determining the other channel to provide, are further to: determine the other channel based on determining that the other channel is not in a commercial break.
  1. The device of claim 1, where the one or more processors are further to: receive information identifying the user; retrieve a set of stored channel preferences associated with the user; and where the one or more processors, when determining the set of preferred channels, are further to: determine the set of preferred channels based on the set of stored channel preferences associated with the user.
  1. A non-transitory computer-readable medium storing instructions, the instructions comprising: one or more instructions that, when executed by one or more processors, cause the one or more processors to: receive a request to configure segment skipping, the request including an indication of a segment to be skipped; determine a set of preferred channels associated with segment skipping based on receiving the request to configure segment skipping; store an indication of the segment to be skipped and the set of preferred channels associated with segment skipping; provide a first channel for output to a user via an output device; determine that the first channel is providing the segment to be skipped; select a second channel from the set of preferred channels associated with segment skipping based on determining that the first channel is providing the segment to be skipped; determine that the second channel is not providing the segment to be skipped; provide the second channel for output to the user, via the output device, based on determining that the second channel is not providing the segment to be skipped; determine that the first channel is no longer providing the segment to be skipped; record the first channel; determine that a user device is not within a particular proximity of the output device, the user device being different than the output device; provide an indication to the user, via the user device, that the first channel is no longer providing the segment to be skipped, the indication being provided based on the user device not being within the particular proximity of the output device; receive a request to return to the first channel from the user based on providing the indication to the user that the first channel is no longer providing the segment to be skipped; determine a starting playback position in the recorded first channel based on the request to return to the first channel, the starting playback position being associated with detecting that the first channel is no longer providing the segment to be skipped; and provide the recorded first channel at the starting playback position for output to the user via the output device.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 6, where the one or more instructions, that cause the one or more processors to determine that the first channel is no longer providing the segment to be skipped, further cause the one or more processors to: monitor the first channel; and determine that the first channel is no longer providing the segment to be skipped based on monitoring the first channel.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 6, where the one or more instructions, that cause the one or more processors to provide the second channel for output to the user, further cause the one or more processors to: determine that the second channel has begun to provide the segment to be skipped; select a third channel from the set of preferred channels associated with segment skipping based on determining that the second channel has begun to provide the segment to be skipped; determine that the third channel is not providing the segment to be skipped; and provide the third channel for output to the user based on determining that the third channel is not providing the segment to be skipped.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 8, where the one or more instructions, that cause the one or more processors to provide the third channel for output to the user, further cause the one or more processors to: monitor the second channel; determine that the second channel is no longer providing the segment to be skipped based on monitoring the second channel; and provide the second channel for output to the user based on determining that the second channel is no longer providing the segment to be skipped.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 6, where the one or more instructions, when executed by the one or more processors, further cause the one or more processors to: receive information identifying a popularity measurement associated with the set of preferred channels; and where the one or more instructions, that cause the one or more processors to select a second channel from the set of preferred channels associated with segment skipping, further cause the one or more processors to: determine a second channel based on the information identifying the popularity measurement associated with the set of preferred channels.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 6, where the one or more instructions, when executed by the one or more processors, further cause the one or more processors to: receive information identifying a particular data signature associated with detecting the segment to be skipped; and where the one or more instructions, that cause the one or more processors to determine that the first channel is providing the segment to be skipped, further cause the one or more processors to: process the first channel; determine a recorded data signature based on processing the first channel; determine that the recorded data signature matches the particular data signature; and determine that the first channel is providing the segment to be skipped based on determining that the recorded data signature matches the particular data signature.
  1. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 6, where the one or more instructions, that cause the one or more processors to determine that the first channel is providing the segment to be skipped, further cause the one or more processors to: receive a message indicating that the first channel is providing the segment to be skipped; and determine that the first channel is providing the segment to be skipped based on receiving the message indicating that the first channel is providing the segment to be skipped.
  1. A method, comprising: determining, by a device, one or more preferred channels; determining, by the device, an anchor channel; determining, by the device, that the anchor channel has commenced a commercial break; determining, by the device, an alternate channel from the one or more preferred channels based on determining that the anchor channel has commenced the commercial break, the alternate channel not being in another commercial break; providing, by the device, the alternate channel via an output device; monitoring, by the device, a characteristic associated with the anchor channel based on providing the alternate channel; determining, by the device, that the anchor channel has concluded the commercial break based on monitoring the characteristic associated with the anchor channel; recording, by the device, the anchor channel; determining, by the device, that a user device is not within a particular proximity of the output device, the user device being different than the output device; providing, by the device and to the user device, an indication that the anchor channel has concluded the commercial break based on the user device not being within the particular proximity of the output device; receiving, by the device, a request to return to the anchor channel based on providing the indication that the anchor channel has concluded the commercial break; determining, by the device, a starting playback position in the recorded anchor channel based on the request to return to the anchor channel, the starting playback position being associated with detecting that the anchor channel has concluded the commercial break; and providing, by the device, the recorded anchor channel at the starting playback position for output to the user via the output device.
  1. The method of claim 13, where providing the anchor channel based on determining that the anchor channel has concluded the commercial break further comprises: providing the anchor channel for display.
  1. The method of claim 13, further comprising: providing a set of available channels for user selection; receiving a set of user rankings associated with the set of available channels; and where determining the one or more preferred channels further comprises: determining the one or more preferred channels based on receiving the set of user rankings.
  1. The method of claim 13, where monitoring the characteristic associated with the anchor channel further comprises: processing the characteristic associated with the anchor channel; and where determining that the anchor channel has concluded the commercial break based on monitoring the characteristic associated with the anchor channel, further comprises: determining that the characteristic associated with the anchor channel does not match a stored characteristic, the stored characteristic being associated with identifying commercial breaks; and determining that the anchor channel has concluded the commercial break based on determining that the characteristic associated with the anchor channel does not match the stored characteristic.
  1. The method of claim 13, where monitoring the characteristic associated with the anchor channel further comprises: receiving, from a server, a status associated with the anchor channel; and where determining that the anchor channel has concluded the commercial break, further comprises: determining that the anchor channel has concluded the commercial break based on the status associated with the anchor channel.
  1. The method of claim 13, where providing the alternate channel further comprises: providing an indication that the alternate channel is being provided, the indication including at least one of: a user identifier; an anchor channel identifier; or an alternate channel identifier.
  1. The device of claim 1, where the starting playback position starts at an end of the commercial break.