Had a thought that either marks the moment that my soul has finally been eaten away, or is a stroke of genius. Maybe it's a little of both.
Currently services like Hulu (and to a certain extent most other "free" content providers) trade you the content you want to watch with some form of advertising. Most of these are for products I have no intention of purchasing, so advertisers carefully track me until they figure out what makes me tick so I'll head to the store and purchase their product. In return, I get to watch some non-trivial piece of the content I wish to watch, waiting for the next ad-based intrusion to strike. It's a complicated and symbiotic relationship that we've been conditioned to accept as the way to pay for freely-available content that we wish to consume.
What if we cut out the middle man?
What if, when a program starts, you're offered the opportunity to just outright purchase the product they're offering in return for no more interruptions?
Say you're watching an episode of [favorite TV program here] online, and the following offer appears: "Watch this show uninterrupted by purchasing some Old Spice deodorant". A little "Buy it now" button appears. In 30 seconds, the show will start, but you can cut out all of the commercials by just clicking on a button.
The company gets what they want (more revenue from product sales) and you get (ostensibly) what you want, which is un-interrupted viewing, and some Old-Spice deodorant.
Obviously this works best for smaller-scale items. (I'm not sure I want to be purchasing a car in return for ad-free The Daily Show, but then again, we are in the market, and those ads can be pretty-annoying).
Evil? Brilliant? Unworkable? Let me know if I should be checking into marketing rehab.