Those are a couple of the questions raised by a newly surfaced Microsoft patent application.
It’s called “Control-based Content Pricing,” and the basic idea is dynamic pricing of video content, based on the preferences of the user at any given moment — essentially setting different prices for different functions of the TV remote.
Here’s an excerpt from the filing.
For example, if a user initiates a navigation control input to advance past (e.g., skip over) an advertisement, the cost of a requested on-demand movie may be increased. Similarly, if a user initiates a replay of a sporting event, the user may be charged for the replay control input and for each subsequent view control input. This provides an advertisement revenue model that reflects user viewing choices and selections during playback of requested on-demand media, and enables targeted advertising and media content delivery, while maintaining consumer privacy. …
Control-based content pricing allows for user-personalized pricing where price is a direct function of user viewing interaction. Further, the pricing may be expressed as a debit function, such as a debit to receive an on-demand movie, or as a credit function, such as a credit to watch an advertisement or infomercial before receiving the on-demand movie. The credit and/or debit functions of the pricing may also be based on view control inputs, such as content navigation inputs, received as user-input commands initiated with a remote control device.
The patent application, filed in November, builds on an existing patent that was already issued to Microsoft last year.
Also interesting: One of the inventors on the Microsoft patent, Kevin Carle, now works at Google’s YouTube.
Update: A Microsoft spokesperson says via email, “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.”
Here’s a diagram from the filing.