Economic Impact of DVRs: Disastrous or just shifting? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 10-12-2006, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
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I've recently become the happy owner of some DVR hardware - in my case it's an OnAir/AutumnWave device that plugs into my PC, so I can both timeshift shows, and record them to my PC. This means I can make clips and post them to YouTube - it's probably illegal, but so is most of YouTube. And so far, Stephen Colbert doesn't seem to mind.

I love having this ability - to me, this is the way TV should have always been since it was first introduced. Although the most talk about DVRs is the Fast-Forward button, the feature that sells it for me is Pause. I can watch a great show, and if I want to talk to my friends about something I'm watching, or unrelated, it's no longer one or the other - I can Pause the show, enjoy my conversation, and come back to it.

In fact, I love having this DVR so much that it's made me wonder how sensibly people like ABC's executive are being - people who have tried to eliminate the Fast Forward feature from Tivo, and made claims to advertisers that people who have the Fast Forward feature don't use it. Obviously TV industry execs are scared of DVR - but should they be?

For one, I actually watch more TV now than I did without a DVR. Shows I normally wouldn't bother with because I'm busy cooking dinner or working I can now record and watch at my leisure - I can get 10 minutes of Law & Order in while I wait for a pot of water to boil, then pause it while I put in the pasta.

Second, what TV I do watch has me more engaged, because if a distraction comes up I can pause while I entertain that distraction, and when I come back, the TV has my full attention again.

Third, shows on at strange times or on conflicting channels I can now watch as well. Two season premieres on at the same time? I can watch one while I record the other. Or record both if I have 2 DVRs (those OnAirs are cheap!). New, interesting show just getting its start on at midnight? I can record that while I sleep and watch it tomorrow.

So, it could be argued that the DVR actually expands TV station's options rather than reducing them. Being able to start a good show idea at any time of day - not just Prime Time - adds a lot of breathing room to the schedule.

Of course, it could be argued that none of this helps TV station revenue, because I'm not watching the commercials. But in practice that's not true either.

First, fast-forwarding is a primarily human task for now - most DVR software doesn't detect and skip commercials for you automatically yet. This means I forget to fast forward a lot - and I've noticed that when I do fast-forward, it's in response to being annoyed: Either the commercial is way too loud, includes an "alarm sound," or I've seen it way too many times. In the first 2 cases the lesson to advertisers is simple: Don't annoy the viewer. That's a fine shift in advertising, as until DVRs the opposite motivation is obvious: If the viewer is distracted a lot, blast some alarming sound or guy screaming to ensure you get their attention. Now, that's the best way to get you skipped. In the last case of the commercial playing too many times, that's fine: You've already marketed to me enough.

But, I do fast-forward, and surely I do skip many commercials I otherwise would have sat through. But, as I mentioned earlier, the ones I do manage to sit through I'm paying more attention to than I would have before.

And because I can cut clips of my shows, I've noticed one last thing: The commercials played on my favorite shows, I see more than any other commercials. This is because I'm constantly playing over the clips to find good cutting points, and the commercials come along for the ride - until I cut them that is. Although the final product is commercial-free, the truth is this new TV-related activity of mine is causing me to see a LOT of a few commercials played during my favorite programming.

This might have an interesting new lesson for TV shows and advertisers; while cult hits like 24 and other shows that had a small but very dedicated following, perhaps these shows now have more value than before - because these are the shows viewers are going to watch over and over, and make clips of, etc, with their DVRs.

In fact, I'd love to see Nielsen ratings catch onto this, so advertisers do as well - it would help prevent the death of a lot of shows that had a small set of viewers who adored the show, rather than a broad set of viewers who found it so-so, which is most of the crap on TV - that's what made money in the old model. Perhaps the biggest money-maker in the new model, is the show with the most enthused following, rather than the largest.

What do you think? Do you find yourself watching dramatically fewer commercials, or less, but with more attention to devoted to the ones you do watch? Or, none at all?
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post #2 of 14 Old 10-16-2006, 12:26 PM
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You make some good points.

Personally, I keep my remote in hand and rarely get caught watching commercials. The trigger for me is the fade to black and my desire to see what happens next, not the annoyingly loud/repetitious commercials.

I think product placement will eventually become the primary advertising vehicle. Although the networks/advertisers have successfully scared most DVR manufacturers from offering (activating) 30-sec skip or auto commercial skip features, I don't think they will be able to rescend the fast forward feature. It is just way to popular to the millions who use Tivo and Cable box DVRs.
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post #3 of 14 Old 10-17-2006, 03:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. Would you say you occasionally end up slipping and sitting through some commercials anyways? I don't know what kind of DVR you have but does it let you clip past recordings?

Product placement is definitely taking a step up - suddenly The Price Is Right has the best business model - and I agree Fast Forward is here to stay. Although Pause is my favorite feature, no DVR with Fast Forward missing is going to get anybody to buy.

I've always thought an interesting way to approach Fast Forward would be, if you double-tap it you get a panel of screens each 10 seconds apart, and can choose which one you'd like to move to. While the "30-second skip" feature is perhaps too blatant in its mission to eliminate commercials, a feature like that might help you skip commercials and serve a more general purpose - like skipping past the one part of the show you didn't sleep through.
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post #4 of 14 Old 10-18-2006, 09:11 AM
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I have the SA 8300HD, which I love especially since Knology sent the new SARA software that fixed some of the annoyances and added an even faster fast forward and rewind (a fourth arrow). It doesn't clip per say, though with the new super ff you only see maybe 4 frames of a minute of video. I use macros on my remote that finetune the timing for 30 sec, 1 min, and 3 min skips.

On the rare occurances of a slipup, it would probably be the Vonage, Aflac, and Geico commercials that snap me out of the trance. God, those are annoying. As I'm sitting in the airport writing this I see that dang gecko on the TV.

That's a great idea for the FF doubletap.
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post #5 of 14 Old 10-18-2006, 10:51 AM
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I'll tell you what kind of commercials REALLY annoy me the most now - the ones that are on traditionally English-language channels that are ENTIRELY in another, foreign language!

There was one of these on the Bears/Cardinals game on ABC/ESPNHD the other night, and I've been seeing more and more of them lately.

Whatever happened to SAP and subtitling?
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post #6 of 14 Old 10-18-2006, 05:21 PM
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Senor Ramminitinski, no habla espanol?
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post #7 of 14 Old 10-19-2006, 09:51 AM
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Si - un poquito. ;)

Actually, I didn't want to mention any particular ethnicities, so as to offend anyone. :)

But whatever happened to SAP and subtitling? All they are really doing is contributing to the segregation (and even possible hostilities) that way. That's the thing that bothers me the most. I understand the way things work, but the way they're going about it just doesn't seem very smart. They risk alienating a large portion of their viewership that way. Especially if they "push" it further and further (like they probably will). I don't want to sound too socio-political here (as it's not meant to be - I'm strictly talking advertising), but with the attitude such a large segment of the population currently has about this kind of thing, is this really wise? I think a lot of people would take this as sort of, "in your face". It seems like it would be too provoking to many people right now to risk. I thought advertisers were smarter than that. I guess not, now that I really think of it - the money they spend on advertising can't possibly be worth what they actually recoup on most products. I always did wonder how they were able to keep doing what they do anyway. :rolleyes:

Oh well. I guess it's much cheaper than one of the dedicated "language" channels having to pay for the rights to broadcast the game completely in that language. The dedicated ESPN channel may have carried it, but that's not free-to-air, with the wider distribution.

Gotta be some good reason they're doing it - and money's always the bottom line. If there's any kind of monetary backlash, I'm sure they'll pull back, or at least rethink and retool their methods.
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post #8 of 14 Old 10-19-2006, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Indeed - something terrible could come of this, like America becoming a bilingual country, just like every other country in the world except America. ¡Que horror!
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post #9 of 14 Old 10-19-2006, 08:37 PM
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Which is exactly why I'm glad I don't live in "every other country in the world."

I haven't noticed any spanish adds where I live, though I would expect it in other parts of Florida.

Maybe the economics work because most red state rednecks use Tivo/DVRs to avoid the commercials leaving only the poor undocumented workers suffering through the injustice of commercials. We need a governement program that will bring Tivo to the undocumented workers to stop this injustice. (tongue firmly planted in cheek)
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post #10 of 14 Old 10-19-2006, 10:35 PM
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It's possible that the commercial was only shown locally here in Chicagoland. But I think it was a national product - Miller, maybe?

Somebody in another thread from Florida was just complaining that a lot of the English language channels there were changing over to Spanish language/programming.

I don't know how true it is, but being Florida, I would expect it. Actually, I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner down there.

If it IS true, and it's a sign of things to come all over, then the problem I have with that is that the only English channels available eventually will probably cost the ones who want them extra. While most of the free-to-air channels will be in other languages. It's NOT FAIR for the English-only speaking citizens to have to shoulder the extra cost (emphasis on the word "citizens" ;) ).

Being a bilingual country is not really the issue with me. I happen to think it's good for everyone in this world to know as many languages as possible. (And that goes both ways - hint, hint.)

Anyhow, I can't even remember the last time I ever watched or even payed attention to a commercial. I find myself just DVR'ing a lot of stuff first, then editing out the commercials before I watch. And if I do actually watch something not time-shifted, I either turn down the sound for commercials or get up and tend to other business.

So nothing they could possibly ever come up with to thwart this would ever work with me anyway. I'm already in the routine of not paying any attention to them. I'm pretty well-conditioned. Been that way for many years before the first DVR was even invented. I honestly don't think I ever bought or wanted something just because I saw it in a commercial - at least since I was a little kid watching Saturday morning cartoons.
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post #11 of 14 Old 11-05-2006, 07:47 AM
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I can certainly attest to watching more...I mean from the scale of things you figure if someone is working for 8 hours a day and sleeping for maybe 8 that means 2/3rds of a day you aren't watching tv. Then you figure you can record things when others are watching.

As a kid I might have stayed up to watch late night stuff like SNL but why bother now when you can record it? Commercials I can either skip over or fast forward. I watch some business news on cnbc (worldwide exchange) that's on from 4am to 6am...my pvr can put it on fast forward speed of 60x! why watch something for a few hours if I can read the headlines and finish the whole thing in just a few minutes (commericals in 60x and the rest at 30x)

Yes some might say there's ondemand but that's only for the major networks and stations. Recently I discovered a weekly news program that's pretty local...unless I want to watch it at 6am I HAVE to record it. Another good thing to remember as opposed to by a vcr or even a dvd record is I don't have to label things and put them away. I have things on mine that are over a year old although most are within six or so months.

Sometimes shows ONLY air a handfull of times a year...like comedy centrals celebraty roasts...say a funeral for a major politican or a religious figure etc.
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post #12 of 14 Old 11-05-2006, 08:38 PM
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Well, I am one of those people with a DVR that fast forwards through the ads, but I mute the ads when watching live TV, so either way I don't watch them. As for the argument about a bi-lingual America, this is hardly the place for it.
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post #13 of 14 Old 11-06-2006, 04:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdovell
Then you figure you can record things when others are watching.
Exactly! Which in a narrow sense ruins the business model of everyone putting the hot show on at the same time to steal business from their competitors - because now you can watch both season premieres if you feel like it. But a savvier person will look at that and realize they can show whatever they want at any time, ignoring the competition's schedule, because if a DVR viewer wants to watch it, they will - schedule be damned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdovell
Yes some might say there's ondemand but that's only for the major networks and stations.
Yeah OnDemand hardly counts - it's so spotty and so locked-in. You sit through the cable provider's ads to watch it, shows you wanted to watch tomorrow might disappear from the listings by then, and you can't look up what's available online to see a big grid, you've got to use the crap interface on the box. Bah. DVR is where it's at.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rseven
ads ... either way I don't watch them.
Yes, some people are less open to ads than others, in general. I was shocked in a separate thread on this site to find out that the 3 Home Shopping channels on my cable provider were all specifically demanded by numerous customer calls and complaints, and attempts to remove them were met with angry customers. I can't imagine the person that feels this way, but I can only assume these people when armed with a Tivo would watch every ad along the way... maybe even rewind to watch them over again. On the other side of the coin... we have you. But the question is one of relativity: Do you watch more TV with a DVR? And, would you say more ads make it to your eyeballs now or without DVR? How about your brain?
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post #14 of 14 Old 11-06-2006, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoopahMan
I was shocked in a separate thread on this site to find out that the 3 Home Shopping channels on my cable provider were all specifically demanded by numerous customer calls and complaints, and attempts to remove them were met with angry customers. I can't imagine the person that feels this way, but I can only assume these people when armed with a Tivo would watch every ad along the way

Check your locals vs. what's on your provider...it's interesting. We get shopnbc that's a home shopping one...OK...on the OTA we have one that's 99% the same...the only exception is it has 3 hours of childrens programming on sundays. Because of the cable OTA rules they have to carry it...total waste of space to see the SAME thing take up room. I deleted any home shopping stuff from my dvr lineup anyway.
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