Bypass TV Ads? Microsoft Wants You To Pay

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is pursuing a new patent that could lead to television viewers paying subscription fees, based on what and how they choose to watch.

Under Microsoft's new system, called "Control-Based Content Pricing", the whole TV sponsorship model could see a major overhaul. The technology could conceivably turn available television channel selections into an "a la carte menu".

The theory behind Control-Based Content Pricing could lead to highly targeted advertising and media content (TV programs) designed specifically for the individual viewer.

Watch What You Want, Pay For What You Watch

To date, advertisers generally invest a great deal of time, effort, and money in coming up with creative ways to sell their products. In return for supporting the cost of TV programs, sponsors expect viewers to see their commercials, and be influenced by them.

But the advent of Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) has given viewers the option of bypassing commercials when they watch TV.

If Microsoft has its way with this new patent, however, viewers who advance their favorite show to bypass a sponsor's advertisements might be forced to pay higher prices than more compliant viewers for that TV program.

Even using today's popular features, like the ability to replay live-action television, in the future could result in a nominal extra fee, if Microsoft follows through on its patent. For example, viewers could be charged for each moment of replay.

Debits, Credits in Exchange for Viewing Habits

Monetary tracking of TV viewing, should it happen, would probably be treated as a debit function, much like the current system in which an individual pays for purchasing an on-demand movie.

However, Microsoft is also toying with the idea of creating a credit function, in which a viewer would receive a credit, literally get paid, for watching an advertisement or infomercial streamed in front of an on-demand movie. (Source:

Microsoft Not Yet Committed to Its Game-Changing Idea

It should be made clear, however, that Microsoft hasn't yet committed to any form of the Control-Based Content Pricing plan.

In a recent email, one company spokesperson simply stated, "Microsoft regularly applies for, and receives, patents as part of its business practice. Not all patents applied for or received will be incorporated into a Microsoft product." (Source:

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