Another Way To Get Around TiVo Users Fast Forwarding: Really Interrupt Your Shows With Ads

from the ugh dept

Reader DEF writes in to point us to an interesting catch from Jason Kottke. At least some broadcasters seem to have taken things to the next level in trying to get people to watch ads without fast forwarding through them with a DVR: they literally have an overlay ad “pause” the TV show. You pretty much have to watch it to understand it, so here it is:

These overlay ads have become quite common, but having one (even jokingly) pause the action in the show that you’re watching certainly seems like overkill, which is going to annoy a lot more viewers than it convinces to watch the show being advertised.

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Comments on “Another Way To Get Around TiVo Users Fast Forwarding: Really Interrupt Your Shows With Ads”

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PaulT (profile) says:

They really haven’t got a clue, have they? Eventually, people will just get tired of the restrictions on their legal content and download the shows instead. It would pay to get this through their thick skulls: people who fast forward / skip ads are not interested in them and will not buy the products advertised as a result. The advert as shown here would certainly put me off recording that channel’s content again.

Iron Chef says:

You got to be kidding

What? Wow… And they wonder why there’s across-the-board, double-digit ratings declines? People aren’t watching TV anymore because the platform is just plain obtrusive!

The moment the powers-that-be start realizing that content can be monitized like DVDs without the need for advertizing revenue, people will come back. People don’t have 2 or 3 hours extra per day to dedicate and plan around the tube’s schedule.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

at least they pause

A lot of channels have taken to having an ad use the bottom 25-40% of the screen with sound and without pausing the show. Really fun when you’re watching a show with subtitles (like Heroes) or when the sound is so high that it drowned out the audio of the show. I actually turned off an episode of Heroes and downloaded it from the UK so I could watch it.

I have recorded episodes of Stargate Atlantis with advertisements for Ghost taking up about 30% of the screen. I have episodes of Code Monkeys with “Midnight Spank” at the bottom and a G4 bar with stupid YouTube videos at the top and an RSS feed.

I’ve taken to downloading shows from Europe because they don’t have the adds yet.

KJ says:

Like putting out a grease fire with water... just makes things worse

The industry keeps complaining about dwindling ad revenues but this isn’t the solution. It makes people watch less of your programming. Don’t they realize this type of advertising during a show people actually like will make them hate whatever show you are trying to promote. Just plain stupid. Like others have said, get your TV from other countries (Europe and Cananda).

Sumbuddy Stoopid says:

Holy Jeebus!!!

I have’nt seen the content above, work is blocking it, they try to keep me productive around here, good luck…

Anywho, I have a DVR and must say at first I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. But the ads at the bottom half of the screen have gotten ridiclous, sounds an everything, they need to go… I don’t buy none of their crap anyway!

Anonymous of Course says:

Maybe fix the advertising instead?

If they would make the advertising more intersting
people wouldn’t skip them as much.

Annoying ads people remember, but that doesn’t work
well when they can avoid them. Saturation advertsing
is annoying too.

The ads could often be more entertaining that the
content, it’s not much of a challenge. Bring back
premiums and give aways, if you watch the ads you
might win a prize or receive a discount. There are
plenty of hooks available if some creativity is

The advertiser no longer have a captive audience.
They have to adjust their strategy. Trying to
hang onto the captive audience is a lost cause.
The audience has tasted freedom and consider
their time to be increasingly valuable.

Just as some of the old business models need to go,
so too do some of the old advertising models.

NPGMBR (profile) says:

Luckily Have Not Seen This Yet

I have not seen this on my TiVo but if I got one that big I’d get pretty upset. What think broadcasters are trying to do is intentionally annoy DVR users to the point that users drop the DVR and move to watching shows back at the tv or on the net because they need eyeballs to see those commercials so they can continue to justify the rates they charge advertisers for air space and time.

J says:

TBS is a terrible station

TBS is not a fun station to watch. While this example is pretty egregious, it’s not significantly worse from their almost constant lower-fifth adverts which are distracting in the extreme, combined with longer than average (or so it feels) commercial breaks. Fortunately, there is almost nothing worth watching on TBS that you can’t get elsewhere.

suckerpunch-tm says:

Commercial TV

I have come up with a simple solution for avoiding TV adverts: Not watch commercial TV.

I literally no longer make a point of watching a single TV program. Not that I don’t watch TV, but as soon as the commercials start, I am off to the next channel. (Yes, I realize that may be obnoxious for those watching with me, but since I am single, not too many worries).

Or better yet, I will watch a movie on DVD or On Demand.

Commercials are killing TV, and rather than trying to remedy that, networks just make them MORE intrusive & prevalent!
Talk about short term thinking.

Nasch says:

Re: Commercial TV

That isn’t not watching commercial TV, that’s not watching commercials on TV. To not watch commercial TV, you would have to watch PBS and nothing else. Or maybe local public access. I’m not aware of any other TV that is non-commercial.

If you’re actually interested in watching TV, I recommend a DVR. You can watch the shows you want to watch from start to finish without watching the commercials. Or if you’re not that interested in TV, I recommend not watching it at all. ๐Ÿ™‚

Johnny Wrath (profile) says:

How soon before...?

How soon will it be before we have a situation like Phorm’s “behavioral advertising firm” tracking our viewing pattern? I’ve been getting overlay ads for a while, and I can just imagine the bloodletting that will happen in this “new frontier” of completely ruining content for the viewer.

I’m also tired of frame-pop-ups that prompt me to thumbs-up if I want to learn more about… well, its almost always penis drugs. Large ads appear in the TiVo menu as well, so it is only feasible that somehow the ad firms will find new and sickening ways to force me to watch their ads. I expect that there will be 10-15 seconds ads that freeze the show you’ve fast-forwarded back to, as you hit “play”, before TiVo continues. There will be no escape.

Jess says:


The only thing that we are forgetting is that ads pay for a lot of things, could this potentially jack up the cost of television. Its already unrealistic. Even though I think I make a valid point, I still think this sucks. Ads to me are just time wasters. Half the time, I never remember what they are for, the other half I hate because I remember them.

tim stevens says:

same reason I don't rent dvds anymore

I stopped renting dvds because of the maddeningly stupid fbi warnings against copywright infringement, drug warnings, adult warnings and all that nonsense. the fact I could not fast forward through that annoyance was the last straw.

now I go to the dvd rental shops only to see what I need to torrent on the weekend.

NIck says:


I happened to see this on TBS the other day. This was after repeated Tyler Perry animated ad’s in the bottom third. They also overlayed the end credits over the closing scene of the show. TBS seems to be the worst for force feeding advertising, but all TV seems to be getting worse. I find myself watching less and less TV, the ad’s have gone from annoying to actually taking away the entertainment value from the show I’m watching; meaning that the handful of shows that I do want to watch become shows I don’t want to watch b/c of the pervasive advertising. If it wasn’t for sports, paying for cable would no longer be worth it.

shmengie says:

maybe i didn’t understand exactly what was going on. it looks like if i want to fast forward through commercials, i’ll get this pop up. is that correct? it doesn’t stop me from fast-forwarding, does it? if it doesn’t, who gives a rat’s ass, really? my mind will just filter it out, like it does with 99% of the other ads i’m subjected to every day.

and, what about 30-second skip?

Vinod (user link) says:

Just like popups - there will be a way around this too...

Pop ups on the internet do not work effectively, and this is basically the same thing on the TV. There is such a small percentage (under 1%) of people that click on pop up ads, but the difference here is that it is fairly cheap on the internet.

However, TV is different. It is expensive to advertise, therefore TBS is trying this with their own internal advertisements. I know they will get such negative feedback that they will not be able to offer it to other companies. As I said before, Internet popup advertising is cheap, with an extremely small click through rate, never mind the insanely small conversion rate, but it’s cheap – so in the end it is economically feasible, but TV is different. It is more expensive, there would not be enough people to buy a product with this type of advertising.

The only type of advertising that really works our products & services that integrated in the TV show. For example, showing (and giving away) free GE appliances on Top Chef to the winner of a challenge. If anyone saw the new Knight Rider movie you undoubtedly saw the amount of advertising from Ford that was not only shown during the commercials but integrated in the movie. Ford went so far to put in specific writing in the movie script. They discussed that KITT was actually running on gasoline, and KITT told him he wasn’t running on another fuel because (I’m paraphrasing now) – sometimes simple is better.

Yes – I hate this new form of “paused” advertising but I guess they have to at least try it out. It wont’ get very far.

Paulywogg says:

TV is a commercial medium

I’ve been weening myself off of the Network TV teet for some time now; primarily watching ad-free content from online sources, (some paid, some not) to watch via my linux-based media PC.

A recent move left me without cable television. Initially, this was due to cost – how the hell can they charge these rates [Rogers Cable in Canada] to deliver content that they already get paid for?! Since making that decision, I haven’t even thought about getting cable.

There’s still good television content being produced, but it’s so rare that I’m missing nothing by not being able to receive it live and subsidized.

Sad, though it is – television has always been an ad-supported medium. ‘This hour of the Steve Allen show is brought to you by Wheeties”. Programming used to be shill first, entertain second. Of course, it was so novel, people ate it up.

Well, times have changed – so should business models. Until then, they’ll get little from me… now where’d I put my keys? I want some wheeties!

Wayne says:

Commercials thing of the past

Most people i know just download the shows they want to watch. Your hour TV show is actually 42 minutes. So the time saving alone is worth it. I think the model should change from commercials to sponsors. I’ve always just recorded the shows i want and watch at my leisure, and yes i fast forward through commercials. I don’t really like TV now a days. Good thing for books and video games.

Jim says:

I’d heard of this coming some time back. I ditched my Tivo about 3 months ago and built a MythTV box running on Linux. I skip commercials all I want and rip dvd’s and watch just the movie part – no annoying FBI warnings or bits I can’t skip. I like Entertainment but have slowly given up on network TV. Now it’s my way, or the highway. If I can’t enjoy it in its native medium then I’ll “rip it or skip it” on my own terms.

Twinrova says:

Continuance: Ads = Content

Thank you, TBS, for proving my point in my long discussions with Mike about how ads = content isn’t the same thing when it comes to consumers (even though, by definition, they are).

I warned you that if Corporate America finds a way to “merge” the two, consumers lose and this example is perfect.
(Who’s willing to sit and FF these snippets all show long? I sure won’t! I’ll simply find something else to watch.)

And it’s going to get worse. If you think those ad overlays that take up 1/3 (or more!) of the screen are bad, just wait. Eventually you’re going to start seeing split screen displays where ads run CONCURRENTLY with the show.

Try fast forwarding that.

Note: Currently, the latest trend is to start a program .5-1 minute later than expected start times to push more ad space and to throw off DVR scheduling, more often cutting off the end of shows. NBC is notorious for this and ABC has caught on real damn quick. Not sure about CBS as I never watch the station enough (Big Bang Theory is it).

Moreso, cable stations are also doing this but worse: They’re literally cutting parts of the show to shove in more advertising space.

Oh, and for those who are interested in watching A&E’s new adaptation of “The Andromeda Strain”, I recommend you do so via On Demand.
The show is only 3 hours (ad free!) but if you DVR it, you’ll endure 1 hour of commercial fast forwarding.

Rekrul says:

I know that I don’t count since I’m not a “Neilson”, but I swore I’d never watch a single episode of The Shield because of F/X’s overkill ad campaign, as well as the show Dexter and the second second season of Sleeper Cell on Showtime, because they wer both advertised with banners across the bottoms of other shows. Yes, a PAY movie channel was using banner ads on content that I pay for!

John (profile) says:


Like the other posters are saying, the clip above shows an episode of Family Guy, shown on TBS and “paused” by “The Bill Engvall Show”.
I love Family Guy, but I will *NOT* watch TBS any more, nor will I even try watching “The Bill Engvall Show”. How’s that for advertising, TBS?

First “half hour” shows are constantly getting shortened to fit more commercial time. How long is a “half hour” show now: 17 minutes? 15 minutes?

Then, networks have to “overlay” commercials for other shows in the lower part of the screen. First, it was a sliver of the screen, but now it has be at least 1/3 of the entire screen!
Then, channels like the Discovery Channel use 10% of the screen on the right to show a rocket blasting off. If the network is going to cover 40% to 50% of the screen, just cut the show and run a commercial instead.

But what is up with TBS? They use both of these “techniques”, but they also bleed the end credits of one show into the opening credits of the second show. This, of course, further shortens the show and opens up room for more commercials!

Geez, why don’t they just put us out of our misery and show 30 minutes of commercial??

As for the Knight Rider “movie” a few months ago: I don’t even consider it a movie. It was some kind of a story to interrupt the commercials. Literally (and yes, I timed it), every 9 to 10 minutes, there would be another commercial break. So, just about the time you were getting back into the story… yep, another commercial.

And like the above posters said, Knight Rider was such a shill for Ford, that it was basically like watching a long GM commercial. The only thing missing was an actor saying (while in character) “Buy this Mustang with KITT accessories at your local GM dealer. Financing is available!”

bl00k (user link) says:

Did EVERYONE miss the big problem here?

I don’t think anyone has seen the big problem staring you in the face here. If they are putting these types of advertisments to combat the DVR fast forwarder, it is still affecting the people that are not fast forwarding. Now everyone has these ultra-intrusive adverts covering their shows. This will only serve to stop the DVR FF crowd, along with any crowd that was watching the show.

greg s. says:


I wrote letters to the few cable channels I watched complaining about the use of rude and intrusive animated ads during tv programs, when they increased, I literally had cable service shut off and signed up for “5 at a time” netflix where I can get the shows, movies, documentaries without any intrusive ads at all. Fixed that problem! And it costs less than cable and it never goes out. Add the netflix streaming box and I can create my own channel 24/7 all with no ads and no added cost and no Tivo bill and no Tivo!

Joe says:


I can not stand the ads they put over the content its enough stations run their stupid channel logo (TRU) over the show while say COPS is on! I cant read whats on the show because the BIG DUMB LOGO is in the way!JERKS!Also the whats coming up next thing is annoying as well.TV nowadays is pushing me to watch Youtube more and more. The $60 for television just isnt worth it.ALL IT IS IS ADS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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