One of the TV stations (KCRG-TV) is in the middle of a carriage dispute with Dish. I am wondering if the Hopper is the sticking point into why it is currently blacked out. Maybe KCRG wants more because of the hopper.
I just fast forward the commercials, you could do the same thing back in the '90s with videotape. I cannot count how many times I've taped Home Improvement. And if you were taping it while it was broadcasting, you could pause the VCR during the commercials so they would not eat up the tape. Most tapes went up to two hours although some went up to 2 1/2 hours.
DVRs are nice but you can't pause the recording for commercials so those do eat up valuable space on your hard drive.