I have a wonderful little device made by a company called Humax - it's a TV receiver with a hard drive, and it lets me record my favourite shows and watch them when I want to.
It has this really useful button you can use during playback - it skips forward 30 seconds, so when you hit an ad break, you
just press the button to skip commercials. However you usually skip too far, so you have to skip back, so it's less than perfect - you still get the 'ad-break', just truncated - the flow is still broken.
I noticed two things. One - most channels these days have a channel logo in the top left corner of the screen - it's a static image that's alpha-blended with the underlying video. Two - the logo is on screen during the programme, but is removed during commercial breaks.
So I got to thinking. If the Humax (or equivalent device) could detect the presence or absence of the channel logo, it could identify the start and end of each ad break, and jump over it automagically. No more ad-breaks !
Detecting the logo shouldn't be too hard. All one would have to do is detect a set of pixels that remained constant from one frame to the next, over some threshold time. To deal with alpha-blended logos (typically a constant-alpha-blend to white) you could look for a constant edge in the saturation profile of the image. Or something. The precise choice of algorithm is left as an exercise to the reader ;-)
A successful logo-detection algorithm would presumably set off a sort of 'arms race', with TV channels inventing animated logos to outwit the detection.