This post is for educational purposes only, it briefly describes a technique for removing the adverts from Channel 4’s on demand service. I won’t be providing any working examples and won’t be held liable whatever the outcome if you try this, this was just setup as a test one afternoon and then destroyed shortly after. Do so at your own risk.
Why even bother?
Now I love TV but I always end up forgetting and then having to catch up later using on demand services via my NowTV box, some services are great – like the BBC iPlayer – where as others – 4OD or All 4 – lack basic features like being able to resume where you left off without having to sit through the ads again.
This got me thinking, is it possible to get around the ads? Picture this… you are watching an hour long programme on your Roku (or NowTV) box, you have 10 minutes to go and you have to nip out. You come back hoping to pick up where you left off.. but oh no, something happened and now you have to watch from the begining OR fast forward until you get to an ad break, watch the ads, then fast forward again… its not good right? This has happened to me many a time!
A quick Google suggested this is not possible, but that wasn’t good enough for me.
How did you get it to work?
It took a bit of nerdy know how, a decent router and a publicly accessible Linux box.
Decent router – I was using a NowTV (watered down Roku) box, these don’t have the option to manually specify the DNS server addresses so you have to set the DNS servers in my router
Linux box – I used a CentOS 7 box running BIND and Apache, BIND responded to the DNS requests aiming everything at the Apache server
The basic idea is to redirect any requests to ‘known advertiser servers’ to your own server which is returning a single pixel instead of the advertisers video, and it did work really well:
As you can see above the same programme has ads and one does not. This method also removes the ad cue points so you are literally just served with the entire video – cool, huh?
- This was just a test, please don’t lecture me about the importance of advertising and the revenue it generates
- I only tested it with the Roku app, although I think it would have worked for the Xbox app too
- I guess the same tecnique could be used to create a ‘super’ ad blocker that works with more than just on demand services