Has The DVR Resulted In More Reality TV Programming?

from the changing-times dept

Economist Austan Goolsbee had a column in the NY Times last week looking at the economic rationale for why reality TV programming has become so popular these days. It goes well beyond the simple answer that it’s cheap to produce. As Goolsbee notes, if that were the case, it would have caught on much earlier. Instead, the argument is that with the rise of satellite and cable TV adding many more options for people’s viewing time (and you could argue plenty of other entertainment options as well), the pool from which network TV operators can expect to get viewers is shrinking, forcing them to search out cheaper programming.

However, a separate NY Times article may offer another potential reason (whether on purpose or not). It looks at a new study of what programs people record on DVRs and finds that people are less likely to record “timely” programs on their DVRs, preferring to watch them live. This includes the obvious things like news and sports — but also reality TV programming. That’s because who gets kicked off American Idol is likely to be talked about the next morning at work, and people want to make sure they’ve seen the latest so they can talk about it. That creates fewer incentives to record the program and watch it later. So, whether or not TV programming execs recognize it, reality TV programming may actually get more people watching, rather than skipping, commercials.


Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Has The DVR Resulted In More Reality TV Programming?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
33 Comments
bmac (profile) says:

Not always true

Some people (like me) will DVR the show to watch later the same night. Being able to skip the commercials makes it worth the wait, and I still get to talk about the show the next day.

In the case of American Idol, they use so many “product placement” adverts within the show, it doesn’t matter that I skip the full-length ads. I still get their message that I should drink Coke, drive a Ford, and use Cingular Wireless (the new AT&T).

Xenohacker@hotmail.com says:

Reality TV Will Be Around For A While

Reality TV is popular because people can relate to “Real” things. The cost to produce the entertainment makes no difference to viewers provided it does not takes two hours to watch a half hour show. Oh wait… American Idol does. I guess commercials don’t matter either. Also, computers are becoming pretty entertaining so as time goes on less money will be spent on TV programming. “timely” programs are like fountain drinks… best to drink them before they go flat and become yesterdays news. “reality TV programming may actually get more people watching, rather than skipping, commercials.” That means reality TV is not only cheaper to produce but people will eventually pay more to advertise during it. For all these reasons… Reality TV is here to stay for a while…

Sanguine Dream says:

This is a rant about "reality" tv

I’ve never understood the appeal of “reality” tv. I use quotes because most of the situations are guided (if not outright planned) and then carefully edited in order to create a certain image.

You mean to tell me that in like 14 seasons of the Real World there has never been an overweight person?

And why do all the cast members (of nearly every one of these shows) seem to always be cut from the same cookie cutter stereotypes?

Despite all the negative publicity he got why did it take so long for Sanjaya to get booted?

And why has it gotten so popular to on “reality” shows to create a competition situation in which someone gets kicked out or eliminated? I acutallly liked Road Rules until they started that elimination crap. If this keeps up by Real World 20 the roomates will have to elimination challenges too.

[/rant]

Robert Johnson says:

There is one commercial that I do watch, and a DVR is required (although a really good VCR might work).

In some GE comercials is whats called “One Second Theatre”. Its a slideshow of up to 60 slides, and it all goes by in one second. Using the DVR frame advance you can view it one slide/frame at a time.

It usually contains interesting or funny things about the current comercial. A very interesting gimmick, and it worked on me. I saw it the first time as something that looked odd, going by so fast, I had to slow it down and see what it was.

I wouldn’t be suprised to see several seconds go by one day, with hundreds of frames/slides to watch. An advertisment within an advertisment. And people are slowing down to look.

Robert Johnson says:

There is one commercial that I do watch, and a DVR is required (although a really good VCR might work).

In some GE comercials is whats called “One Second Theatre”. Its a slideshow of up to 60 slides, and it all goes by in one second. Using the DVR frame advance you can view it one slide/frame at a time.

It usually contains interesting or funny things about the current comercial. A very interesting gimmick, and it worked on me. I saw it the first time as something that looked odd, going by so fast, I had to slow it down and see what it was.

I wouldn’t be suprised to see several seconds go by one day, with hundreds of frames/slides to watch. An advertisment within an advertisment. And people are slowing down to look.

BDP says:

People still watch TV?

Quite seriously though, I feel like shooting myself in the head when the office starts up the Idol chatter the morning after. I’d say that I can’t wait for reality TV to move on out of mainstream, but it’d just be replaced by something even more mind numbing.

My DVR works great for the few shows I’m interested in wawtching. I guess it works for people like me because we couldn’t care less about being that social butterfly.

Xenohacker@hotmail.com says:

Unrelated Free-Blogging....

Reading this article for some reason reminded me of the crab bucket story.

It goes sort of like this… A kid was walking along the beach one day and he noticed a man with a bucket of crabs. The bucket did not have a top on it but there were many crabs in it. The kid asked the man why the crabs were not able to escape. Then the man explained that if there was only one crab in the bucket it would certainly escape. However, when there is more than one crab in the bucket, if one tries to crawl out, the other crabs would grab hold and pull it back down so that it would share the same fate as the rest of them.

Moral of the story: You must ignore the other crabs if you want to be happy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Just press play 20 minutes in...

Starting to watch a 1 hour show from the beginning about 20 minutes after it has started on your DVR and forwarding through the commercials means by the end of the show you have caught up to real time. So can still kinda watch it roughly live (see who gets kicked off American Idol/Survivor/The Apprentice).

No ads and 20 mins extra for real life…

Its a no brainer really…

Anonymous Coward says:

Not sure about causation...

I don’t know if industry execs were smart enough to see the relationship coming, but all the freaks I know that watch tv watch at least one “reality” show.

Whats disturbing, is that they all know its not reality.

Whats interesting, is that they all refuse to PVR the content and watch it later. They have to watch it LIVE. (they know its not really live)

So the trend you get, is that the more reality TV shows we have, the more they are watching the commercials.

Like I said, its not really causation, unless you can tell the industry execs thought about the effects of this addiction on the minimizing of PVRs. I dont give them credit for it at all. I think they just make reality shows because people want to watch them. And thats the end of causation. The rest is just riding on the coattails of a working formula.

PTTG says:

Bah! Real Shmeal!

Reality TV has taken over the place of things like Gladiatorial combat in society. Why is it any different to see slaves disemboweled on a sandy arena floor, versus watching lowlifes metaphorically backstab one another on some sandy survivor island? I don’t watch those shows – they are neither news nor story telling, and are not artful.

hexjones says:

I enjoy watching Idol. I’m much too stupid to record it on my DVR though. Oh wait, I do record it. Then I start watching halfway through the show so I can FF commercials and the performers that I don’t like. Then I still have time to vote if I feel like it.

I don’t have time for these continuous plot shows like 24 or whatever. It takes a huge commitment to keep up.

I also enjoyed Top Design and Top Chef. I like to talk about them with people. There is more to talk about when you watch (arguably) real personalities competing on these shows. There really isn’t much to discuss when you are watching a well-crafted movie or series.

Does this make us less intelligent? Would you like to know what my IQ is?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Does this make us less intelligent? Would you like to know what my IQ is?

Regardless of your intelligence quotient, this post is proof that you are too stupid to make a relevant post.

(Is this the point that I’m supposed to tell you my IQ is 162? Or perhaps that I was admitted in Mensa when I was nine years old? No? I didn’t think so.)

James Bragg says:

Reality TV is the New

I was recently watching CNN and they were reporting on what happened on American Idol the night before. The segment was complete with sound bytes and “Replays” just like they were covering a baseball or football game, complete with running commentary from a reporter! This was just weird. And then it hit me: Reality Television has become the new sport in America.

I believe reporting RTV as an Event will be the norm and we should all expect every news network to add an RTV segment to the news.

RTV – the new sports franchise in America.
But it’s better: The boys at the top don’t just own a franchise team, they own the whole League!

rEdEyEz says:

RTV programming is social programming

Molding the minds of today’s masses is what reality tv is all about.

It is an agenda designed to modify your behavior, even if that means getting you to sit in front of the boob tube, dvr’ing their drivel, or texting in you “votes.”

Revenue generation; out of your pockets, and in to theirs….

saps

Sanguine Dream says:

Reply to #24


There is more to talk about when you watch (arguably) real personalities competing on these shows. There really isn’t much to discuss when you are watching a well-crafted movie or series.

Regardless of you IQ you are free to you opinion but I have to disagree with you on the above part I just quoted from you. I persoanally get aggrevated by the fact that these show producers/execs spend millions in ads trying to convince you that the show is “real”.

Other than on MTV I’ve never heard of anyone getting six “random” (remember you have to audition for the show) roomates, given jobs, and then have producers guiding you actions to make for compelling tv.

In the office I work in we actually talk about planned shows like the Unit, South Park, and so on. But to each her/his own.

PS- You mention the show 24 and you have the 24th comment. LOL

John (profile) says:

It's all about the money

I don’t think DVR’s have anything to do with the rise in reality TV shows- it’s all about the cost and profit margins.
I think the issue reached a turning point a few years ago when NBS was paying $1 million per episode for each of the 7 “Friends” cast members. This alone comes to $7 million per episode *without* the other product costs.
Yet CBS could make an entire season (or two or three) of “Survivor” for the same $7 million… and unlike past reality shows (“Real World”, etc), “Survivor” actually did well in the ratings.

So, if a reality show is cheap to make, brings in a higher profit margin, and gets good ratings, then why would the network pay for stars and writers? All they have to do is think up a storyline, write a rough outline, grab some people out of their casting department, and they have the latest “Joe Millionaire” or “The Batchelor” or “Who Wants to Watch My Dad Get Married To Another Guy”.

Though, in all fairness, could the networks be shooting themselves in the foot by only producing reality shows? Series like “Friends” and “CSI” and “Law & Order” live on forever in syndication on basic cable. (If you lived in a big city, I bet you could probably watch “CSI” episodes for 24 hours straight just by flipping between cable stations.)
When was the last time you saw episodes of “Survivor” on TBS or WGN or TNT?

smokebreak says:

At Digg.com they are censoring their stories about HD-DVD. It’s all due to the decryption key string that has been available for a week now. I personally am going to use this for my Linux box, much like i use De-Css.

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 – The number string that is causing censorship in blogs (HD-DVD key for Linux use)

Fight the DRM with information, I just thought that this would be most relevant to this story being you can download hd content to your pc, but only legally buy buying it, not if you already own it and want to transfer it to another medium

This is the website contact address that sent the cease and desist take down notices to Google….. Have fun with it (DOS-it? :P)
webmaster@proskauer.com

|333173|3|_||3 says:

The most real TV recently may just have been CNNNN (by The Chaser).

WRT the site that C&D’d Google, just post thier mailto: link everywhere adn get them spammed. Use it to sign up the diritest pr0n sites you can think of, and so on.

I hate reality TV, and am already over it. The closest thing I like to it is probably Whose Line is it Anyway?, and I know that that is possibly planned at least in part in advance.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...