How To Automatically Mute Sound During TV Commercials


Not everyone enjoys watching TV commercials, and these advertisements are usually broadcasted at a higher volume than the actual show you are watching on your TV. Despite these unwanted commercials, muting commercials is an unexpectedly controversial situation with potential lawsuits.

Most popular solutions to automatically mute sound during TV commercials are either discontinued, failed to launch, unable to work in real-time, or meant for commercial use. However, you may be able to create your solution to avoid annoying advertisements using Arduino or Raspberry Pi.

You might be wondering if there is a way to automatically mute these disruptions during your favorite TV show and why a magic solution has not appeared to stop these nuisances. Read on to learn more about the discontinued products that could have changed how you view your favorite TV shows and the currently available options today.

The Controversy Around Muting TV Commercials

Sadly, muting TV advertisements can involve allegations of copyright infringement, which can be associated with any automatic commercial muting solution. Due to the controversial matter, the effort it would take to fight off lawsuits, and the amount of money to go against multi-billion dollar TV service providers and studios is why nobody has even tried to fight it. 

These studios and TV service providers have gone to court and have successfully sued for various copyright infringements. These corporations can bring anybody that attempts to change their broadcasted content to the court system, and automatically muting commercials can be seen as an illegal and unlawful alteration to the content.

Perhaps avoiding the annoying TV commercials is why more people are jumping to Netflix and other subscription-based video streaming services that allow you to pay a fee to avoid commercials. It is estimated that a person using Netflix avoids more than 144 hours of commercials annually, more than six days worth! 

Additionally, the volume of advertisements on TV increased every fiscal quarter back in 2018 and expanded further even in 2019. If you think that there are more TV ads than usual, you are correct as the TV networks are showing more commercials where they can. Since TV networks need to make up for shrinking audiences, they are adding more ads into every hour of broadcasted TV. 

Due to the decline in TV viewership and the rise of streaming services, media companies only have a few options to make money, either running or commercials or raising their prices. 

While the rampant broadcast of long commercials is not the main reason subscribers cancel their cable-TV service, the disruptive ads are one of the top five reasons people cancel, according to Howard Shimmel, former chief research officer at Turner. If you dislike watching TV commercials regularly, perhaps it would be best to cut the cord and choose to stream content instead.

There is currently one product with similar capabilities worth keeping an eye on but is very case-specific for restaurants. Most of the following solutions in this article are meant for private use. Unfortunately, most solutions have been discontinued for a long time or unable to launch for a widespread audience. However, depending on your programming skills, you may be able to revisit some of these options and replicate the ideas.

MuteMagic

MuteMagic was known as one of the most used devices that muted commercials while watching TV. Back when it was widely available for purchase, the device cost only $40, which was well worth the price to mute these loud advertisements. It was simple to set up the tool as it only required you to hook it up to your TV. MuteMagic had an infrared transmitter that automatically sent commands to your TV to mute.

Kommercial Killer

Tommy Tyler created Kommercial Killer with three different components, an ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio receiver, an infrared module, and a tiny computing platform Arduino Trinket. After pressing a button, the Kommercial Killer automatically mutes the TV and restores the audio after the default timer of approximately three minutes from anywhere in the house.

The advantage of using this device was not to rely on pointing a remote directly at the TV but instead having an easier way to mute the TV from anywhere in the house with Kommercial Killer.

Mutr

Unlike the device MuteMagic, the product Mutr never actually launched. However, according to the Mutr team, a commercial could be sensed by analyzing the advertisement’s differences and the TV program a user was watching. Then, Mutr would process a command to mute automatically or change the current channel to a different TV program.

Taiv

Similar along the lines to Mutr, Taiv senses when commercials begin on TV and automatically changes it to the restaurant’s promotional content. After installation, Taiv’s algorithm can understand the significant differences between an advertisement and a football game. 

For example, the color balance could suddenly shift, which indicates an entirely different scene on TV. Rather than having a directory of commercials currently being aired live, Taiv recognizes TV advertisements being played and quickly makes judgment calls. Taiv can quickly realize if the algorithm has made an error (if it is not in actuality a commercial) and will change back to what you were watching previously in less than a second.

Interestingly, the team at Taiv noted many strict laws are currently in place about transmitting signals, and the device is therefore designed to comply with these standards. While this solution does not automatically mute the advertisement and is generally catered more towards commercial use than the people watching at home, there are surely more applications for this startup.

Skipr.tv

Skipr mentions that the average person watching TV can view more than 75 minutes of commercials every day. The device works with your current TV setup and satellite or cable box with an HDMI cable. When it recognizes a commercial playing in real-time, Skipr can replace the advertisement with a screensaver or mute your TV, allowing you to have a quick break.

Since Skipr only supports the most popular cable channels, your favorite TV channel might not be supported by the company. However, they are consistently adding other TV channels at a local or national broadcast level. You can always suggest your favorite cable channels for them to add to the Skipr network. 

Unfortunately, it seems that the device is still in beta, not widely distributed, and may be discontinued, considering the last piece of news about it was more than five years ago.

AutoHop

Perhaps the best solution is by DISH, the satellite TV provider. DISH allows you to skip all the TV advertisements with one push of the remote using the AutoHop function. After recording your favorite shows with DISH, you are provided with an option to skip through all the commercials that have been a part of the entire program. The AutoHop feature allows you to watch your favorite programs free instead of rewinding or fast-forwarding through the show. 

Rather than automatically muting and watching the commercials with no volume, AutoHop skips the commercials entirely. Unfortunately, you cannot skip commercials in real-time, but the capability is still useful if you plan on watching your favorite program a while later. It is a simple feature available on the Hopper DVR that provides a high-quality TV experience for DISH satellite premium subscribers.

Conclusion

It seems that more commercials are being played on TV lately. While many products tried to automatically mute these distractions, most solutions have been discontinued, not applicable for real-time TV, or have failed to launch. Perhaps that’s why Netflix is gaining in popularity.

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