Colbert Takes on Dish’s AutoHop… With Sponsored Content

The broadcast networks’ furor over Dish Network’s AutoHop offering, which pretty much cuts the commercials right out of recorded primetime TV content, hasn’t just hit courtrooms, it also caught the eye of one of America’s top satirists. On June 26, Stephen Colbert dedicated a section of his show, “The Colbert Report,” to the AutoHop controversy in a most interesting fashion: he turned his coverage into a commercial for KFC.

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Beyond being his normal wicked humorous self (yes, I’m a fan), Colbert seems to be making a statement about sponsored content coming more (or maybe “back”?) in fashion on television, especially in an era where consumers have so much choice regarding how they entertain themselves. Unfortunately, his suggested way for advertisers to bypass viewers fast-forwarding on DVR-recorded programs – running commercials in super-super slo-mo – doesn’t seem like the solution the TV world was waiting for.

Colbert seems to be increasingly inserting such branded segments into his program – check out this riotous Wheat Thins “Sponsortunity.” It’s quite clever, giving Nabisco a brand lift for being “in on the joke.”

Branded content has been making serious inlays on the digital side – with some brands like Intel even trying to become publishers (we’re not just talking about the company blog anymore). But the notion behind branded content is that the advertiser itself puts the sweat equity into production – Colbert’s aiming for partnership through sponsored content. But the traditional notions of sponsored content have also changed with the so-called NewFronts, where digital media companies like Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Digital Broadcasting Group (an OPS TV speaker) and more present both completed and potential digital video series in search of a brand partner – sometimes to aid in the production. Even the line between sponsored and branded content is a bit hazy.

So is this a trend that will cross the digital aisle back to TV? Colbert seems to be pointing out an open opportunity. It’s certainly something AdMonsters plans to discuss in detail at both OPS TV in July and OPS NY in October.

In fact, Warren Schlichting, Senior Vice President of DISH Media Sales & Analytics, will be the opening keynote at OPS TV, discussing how the satellite TV company is operating more and more like something from the digital video realm. Worlds are colliding, oh my!


Pondering the future of TV and digital video? OPS TV will bring digital advertising leaders and ops professionals together to discuss the intersection of digital video and TV advertising. Register today for OPS TV, which will be held July 11, 2012, in New York.