Dear ABC, You Don't Compete With TiVo By Making A Product Worse

from the just-a-suggestion dept

About a year and a half ago, an executive at Disney-owned ABC-TV talked about how the network was experimenting with ways to block people from fast forwarding through commercials. The exec in question even claimed that commercial-skipping wasn't even a very important feature for most DVR-owners. Despite the widespread criticism of this statement, it appears that ABC is now preparing to test that theory. In association with cable company Cox, it's testing a new video-on-demand feature that won't let viewers fast forward through commercials. We'll be the first to say it: this is dumb. While it may make a few more people watch commercials, it won't make them happy about it. And, given just how many other options there are these days, the end result might be that people just choose not to watch such ABC programming at all, let alone the commercials.

Yet various ABC executives seem to think that by offering this product, they can stop people from buying DVRs. Anne Sweeney, the president of the Disney-ABC television group, claims: "You don't need TiVo if you have fast-forward-disabled video on demand. It gives you the same opportunity to catch up to your favorite shows." Not quite. First of all, you're limited to shows on ABC. Second, who knows if the additional features are as useful. Finally, one of the nice things about TiVo (oh, right!) is that it lets you watch a 30-minute show in 22-minutes, since you can skip the commercials (whoops). So, yes, many people will still want a TiVo because ABC is forcing the fast forward option to be disabled.

Then there's Ray Cole, who owns some ABC affiliates. He says: "As network and affiliates, we both have an interest in slowing down the explosive growth of DVRs. This is about combating DVRs. As we developed this at every stage, there was an agreement that however we put this together, disabling the fast-forward function was key." I'm curious as to how Mr. Cole thinks offering a product that does much less and deliberately takes away a key feature will "slow down" the "explosive growth of DVRs." You don't compete by offering a worse product. You compete by offering a better product. Taking away one of the key selling points of a product is not exactly a major selling point.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 10:03am

    They can't force you to watch...

    ... since you can just get off the couch. Or, do what my wife and I do when confronted with commercials: mute it and have a discussion, generally about what we just watched....

    Just because a commercial is present doesn't mean people will care to pay attention to it.

    The real way to deal with this is what NBC is doing with their online videos. NBC reduces commercials to three over a 1 hour show, each 30 seconds or less with a counter telling you when it's over. We still mute it, but it's short enough not to be annoying.

     

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      Sleazell, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:06am

      Re: They can't force you to watch...

      The networks don't care if you watch it. All they care about is if they can get data to say it showed on your TV. Then they can go to companies and say "Spend money on us and advertise during this time slot" With a DVR they don't know if you are watching or not so they don't have numbers/data to go to companies with so they can foolishly waste their money.

       

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        tubes, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:26am

        Re: Re: They can't force you to watch...

        "The networks don't care if you watch it. All they care about is if they can get data to say it showed on your TV. Then they can go to companies and say "Spend money on us and advertise during this time slot" With a DVR they don't know if you are watching or not so they don't have numbers/data to go to companies with so they can foolishly waste their money."

        Do you realize how ratings work? Nielsen ratings is a generic number of a few selected people that are given a separate box that monitors what they watch. Television networks ARE NOT able to tell what everybody is watching at the same time. Even if they were they could still tell if you were watching a certain show because you still have to record it to the hard drive of your tivo.

         

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        tubes, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:35am

        Re: Re: They can't force you to watch...

        To help you understand a little better I just copied this from Wikipedia for you:

        "Nielsen Television Ratings are gathered by one of two ways; by extensive use of surveys, where viewers of various demographics are asked to keep a written record (called a diary) of the television programming they watch throughout the day and evening, or by the use of Set Meters, which are small devices connected to every television in selected homes. These devices gather the viewing habits of the home and transmit the information nightly to Nielsen through a "Home Unit" connected to a phone line. Set Meter information allows market researchers to study television viewing habits on a minute to minute basis, seeing the exact moment viewers change channels or turn off their TV. In addition to this technology, the implementation of individual viewer reporting devices (called people meters) allow the company to separate household viewing information into various demographic groups. In 2005, Nielsen began measuring the usage of digital video recordings (TiVo, for example) and initial results indicate that time-shifted viewing will have a significant impact on television ratings. The networks are not yet figuring these new results into their ad rates at the resistance of advertisers"

        So yes they are also able to see what people are Tivoing too.

         

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      Flip D'Channel, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 12:00pm

      Re: They can't force you to watch...

      Oh great! Now that you've said that, ABC will think they can sell TVs in which the mute button won't work on their commercials... Nice going.... (see cheek, stick in tongue)...

       

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      Milton, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 8:01am

      Re: They can't force you to watch...

      Ah! But the next "enhancement" will be to automatically turn up the volume and disable mute, so when you leave the room, you still have to listen to the commercial.

      It's a great feature, you'll love it!

       

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    Nick (profile), Feb 25th, 2008 @ 10:09am

    This makes about as much sense as the record companies trying to retard the growth of MP3 players.

     

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    Vincent Clement, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 10:31am

    As network and affiliates, we both have an interest in slowing down the explosive growth of DVRs.

    And as a consumer, I have an interest in being able to do watch whatever I want whenever I want. On-demand is great. I can watch episodes of Brotherhood and Stargate: Atlantis at times that suit me not the networks.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Network TV is paid for by advertisements. If they can't generate revenue from ads, where do they go? Product placement? Been there. Sponsorship? Done that. Without ads, what pays for the content? Are we doomed to "Reality TV" from now on?

    Where is the free business model here? Will everything end up like HBO and pay TV?

     

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      PixelPusher, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 2:24pm

      Re:

      I'll give you how it can work. Something like 10 years ago, Schindler's List was shown on public TV. I can even tell you the ad sponsor. It was Ford.

      Why can I tell you that? Because of HOW they did it. The movie was shown with a single 15 minute intermission. During which time the *entire* screen was just a black backing with the blue Ford oval. No sound, no annoying announcers, no nothing.

      Partly this was due to the serious subject matter. But also that this was a very effective (and understated) way of doing advertising.

      It worked, I still remember it 10 years later.

       

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      Bob, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 6:28am

      Re:

      The problem is the networks/advertisers have taken commercials too far. There are far too many....too often. I've basically stopped watching "live" TV because of it.

       

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      Tom, May 19th, 2008 @ 10:34am

      Re: the pay model

      It seems that even though I pay for HBO and VOD I still have to watch comercials. It's part of the Comcastic experience, pay for TV and then watch ads so that they can make more money.

       

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    Lucretious, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 10:57am

    The idiocy of upper management types never ceases to amaze me.

     

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    Lucretious, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:00am

    Network TV is paid for by advertisements. If they can't generate revenue from ads, where do they go? Product placement? Been there. Sponsorship? Done that. Without ads, what pays for the content? Are we doomed to "Reality TV" from now on?

    No ones knows how they'll support it because they've never been forced to rethink their antiquated business models.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:01am

    As we are all well aware ....
    If you do not watch the commercials, you are stealing TV.

    You will be caught and you will pay.

     

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    Mitch the Bitch, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:04am

    I went to cable in 1977 and it costed me about $15 month. One key advantage with cable TV was that because I paid a subscription fee I could watch without commercials.

    Fast forward 30 years. Government intervention has increased my rates 5X higher, I am forced to watch crappy cable shows that put 5 mins of commercial every 12 mins and am forced into packages of channels 95% of which I NEVER watch.

    Yet another example of why when business and government regulators agree on anything it's WE THE PEOPLE that get screwed.

    Free market economies work, the government created and subsidized monopolies do not.

    Time for a REVOLUTION!

     

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    Brian, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:07am

    On Demand is sort of like having a free DVR, so it makes sense that On Demand shows are going to have commercials, and it makes sense to disable controls while the commercials are playing.

    That said, those who use this On Demand are not folks who would have bought a DVR anyway, so you're not really slowing down the adoption of DVRs.

     

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      Another Brian, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 5:28am

      Re:

      I have a DVR and On Demand service. They each serve a purpose. One is for shows that are coming on in the near future and the other is for shows that are old enough to be available through On Demand. If I have a choice to set my box to record a show or wait for it to come up on On Demand, but On Demand doesn't let me skip commercials, I'm going to record it myself or say the heck with it. Most of the time, I watch a different channel or ignore the TV when commercials are on. So using fast forward is only a convenience to me. It only means a "view" of a commercial when there's nothing else interesting to flip to. It almost never means I'll pay attention to the commercial I can't skip.

       

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    Brian, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:11am

    No ones knows how they'll support it because they've never been forced to rethink their antiquated business models. There are alternatives to commercials, but you'll probably like them even less - things that occur during the show, like overlays and little sponsor logos in the corner that persist during the programing.

     

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    Nomo, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    TiVo is the problem. And TiVo's advertising platform is the remedy. This type of effort is useless indeed.

     

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    Mike, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:19am

    Its not the commercials

    The issue is the CONTENT of the commercials. Proof is super bowl where many people, myself included, dont care about football but we WILL watch it for the commercials since they tend to be very good and entertaining.

    The garden variety of commercials are insulting to anyone to with a bit of a brain. They are stupid, lame, incoherent and not entertaining at all. So, why spend your valuable time watching something that serves no purpose at all?

    The newest generation of commercials know this and are using storytelling and other hooks to get the eyeballs to stay on target. ABC is not one of them by all accounts.

     

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    bored, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:22am

    Re:

    I see stupid people.

     

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    JustMatt, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:29am

    Wait until they disable the Mute button

    as well as the Channel and Off buttons. Then where will your fancy schmancy 'free' DVR be?

    Long Live TiVo!

     

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    The Angry Intern, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:29am

    I have a Tivo, and even when I'm fast forwarding through commercials, I still see what's being advertised. You still have to watcth the screen to make sure you start again when the show is back on. I've even had times where I've stopped and went back to watch a commercial that looked interesting.

     

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    Bill, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:36am

    VCR

    Didn't people do the same thing with VCRs? I used to tape my favorite shows that were broadcast on nights when I had to work before TIVO existed. I would watch them later and guess what, I fast forwarded though the commercials. Granted, it wasn't as quick and easy as it is now that I have TIVO, but why is this all of a sudden a problem when the capability to FF through commercials has existed since the 70's? Also, OnDemand is not a replacement for DVRs because OnDemand usually does not have new episodes right away. Maybe the networks should focus on advertising that is interesting and engaging so that the viewer will WANT to watch the commericals.

     

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      Chris, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 12:58pm

      Re: VCR

      Exactly. Think Super Bowl. We watched with friends this year, expressly for the purpose of seeing the new commercials. The game is just a sideshow. Make ads worth watching and we might watch them...

       

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    Joe, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 11:44am

    it doesn't block tivo

    It wouldn't be a bad feature for free. Even with commercials I still pay the cable company for TV. Why not have a Tivo like service for free? Even if you have to watch commercials it is better than missing your favorite shows.

     

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    Mitch the Bitch, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 12:02pm

    Duh.... My name is Coward and Im just an idiot...

    When Government regulators determine "a market" instead of the business and it's customers we have a failed system.

    BTW all you TiVO fools, what happened to Replay TV? Hint: it has to do with Government regulated patent office...

    Just askin....

    Once again it's time for a REVOLUTION simpletons like AC be damned...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 12:23pm

      Re:

      So, mitch, you smoke crack and punch puppies in the face, but that is no reason for a revolution. Oh and you are complex, but you just scream you want a revolution. Your ignorance is truly you bliss. You are a cliche.

       

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      Steve, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 12:26pm

      Re: What?!

      What are you talking about? First of all, the story had nothing about government regulation. It's about ABC's executives doing something stupid. They have every right to do stupid things, and I have every right to use my Tivo or ignore their shows.

      As for Replay TV, if they couldn't make it, then something was wrong with THEM... like the box was expensive, bundled with a lifetime service fee to an unproven company, in a day when the average Joe didn't know what a DVR was and NOBODY knew if the company would be around in a year. Tivo started out with service fees as OPTIONAL, and obviously had the better business model. To blame it on the PTO ignores the FACT that there are plenty of other DVRs out there, PC based, cable-box integrated, etc, including Microsoft's Media Center. You can't argue that there's a better target for a lawsuit than MS, so your argument is just plain wrong.

      Now, about a "revolution"... If you think fast forwarding through commercials is worth a revolution, then fine, but You haven't produced any evidence that you've thought it through any further than that. I'm as big of an "anti big government" guy as they come, and yes, I've got my Ron Paul stickers on my car, but to rant about a revolution because you've got to watch commercials during your favorite "Punky Brewster" reruns is just insane.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 12:17pm

    Corporate fudge monkeys. People don't want to watch commercials because 90% of them suck. It's time to stop grasping for top dollar and get a review panel of target demographic people for your channel and let them yea or nay what commercials get put on. Reject advertising that's utterly stupid, and put on better advertising that doesn't make people want to fast forward them as quickly as possible.

    Let me tell you, I have a DVR, and sometimes I stop to look at commercials such as "Price Line Negotiator", "Blizzard Night Elf Mohawk", and "eSurance - the regular characters in action sequences - not that terrible customer gets turned into a toon crap". But stupid ones like the "starter family Lean Pockets" get an immediate pass.

    Stop being lazy and milking the commercial cash cow, accepting anything that passes FCC codes. Get a committee of target demographic people and let them yea or nay various commercials. Start making ad agencies earn their buck on more than just Superbowl ads.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 12:39pm

    HAH

    I guess if I had Cox Cable's DVR and this happened I would switch to satellite. If Dish and DirecTV started doing this as well, I'd cancel my DVR subscription and buy a Tivo.

    What am I an idiot? You're going to TRICK me into watching commercials?

     

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    coyote, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 12:40pm

    You rethink the model

    The networks keep sticking to an old model as the world keeps moving. What they need to do is come out with more compelling ads. I have a TiVo, and I'll stop (and rewind) for an ad that catches my attention. Simple solution, but some people can't see outside what the way things have always been done.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 12:51pm

    Who cares? The only show even vaguely worth watching on ABC is Lost and if I couldn't tivo it, I'd just get it via bit torrent.

    Actually, other than Heroes and Lost, what has been on ABC, CBS, NBC, UPN, FOX in the last ten years that has even been worth watching? I can't recall the last time I thought watched any of those networks, but I know it has been at least ten years.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 12:53pm

    I'd rather pay to watch than have commercials constantly interrupting a show. As has been said many times here, with very few exceptions, TV ads are totally inane.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 12:59pm

    I tried ABC's streaming video

    And I like it--yes it has ads, but it's free. And I like it MUCH better than the ads on broadcast TV: the ads or far fewer and shorter, plus they auto-pause at the end, making it easy to ignore them without missing your show's return.

    Perfect? No. But I'm glad to have the option.

    As for what's worth watching on ABC: just Lost and Pushing Daisies :)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 1:01pm

    Also

    I would NOT pay not to have ads. I'll pay for the very BEST shows, maybe, in some future Blu-Ray HD compilation. Most shows I don't care enough about to own them--and if I don't own, I don't want to pay! I accept that just as with web sites, ads are needed to pay what I don't want to.

     

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    Dave, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 1:03pm

    @Mitch

    I too remember when cable TV promised commercial-free programming. But you see, that was just to get us to buy into it. Like anything, eventually people will find a way to advertise on it. If I could pay extra for commercial-free programming I would gladly do it. For now, though, I'm content to buy the DVD of the program and enjoy the show without constant interruption every 10 minutes.

    @#4 Anonymous

    One thing I will put up with is something like what they did for 24 a couple of seasons where a sponsor bought out the commercial time (I think it was Ford). They had all Ford cars in the show, and showed an extra long commercial before and after the program. Fine, that paid for the show. It's the constant interruption where every 10 minutes I get 3 minutes of commercials that I can't stand.

     

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    Jake Buck, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 1:04pm

    maybe

    How much money could one person watching the commercials for one show generate? Why not do live broadcasts with commercials, and charge people what revenue you get from commercials for on demand shows without commercials. I'd pay 25 to 50 cents per show, which must be more than they make from me watching commercials.

     

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    K0k1man, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 1:06pm

    How about Volume?

    I have a small baby home and on every commercial, on every channel, the volume gets increased a lot without my permission... Can't I have control over the decibel level in my own home?

     

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    Nick (profile), Feb 25th, 2008 @ 1:11pm

    Disney-ABC Television Group: bringing new relevance to the pejorative term "Mickey Mouse."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 1:12pm

    Dont worry. If it happen some smarter than average 17 year old will write a hack to surpass it.

     

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    JC, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 1:30pm

    one positive about paying for the channels you watch, like hbo, is that the producers are not beholden to the advertisers and to general regulation. that's why you can get shows like the wire, entourage, sopranos, dream on, etc. and unedited AND uninterrupted movies.

    maybe by turning them into pay channels, the market will eventually weed most of them out. and people will only subscribe to the ones that produce enough quality shows.

    either way, i think just offering all their shows on demand, starting the same time that it airs, for free, even without fastforwarding, is a step in the right direction.

     

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    noneya, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 1:40pm

    ABC Vs. Tivo

    Hmmmm let's see.... a lame network with lame shows.... yup the only good thing they have IS the commercials, I can see why they want to force them on people.... RATINGS! The only solution we as consumers have to to completely boycott ABC, support TIVO, and make the goobers that are in charge of this nonsense WORK for a living, to increase their ratings, our interest, and of course the networks bottom line. (or let TIVO win the war, buy ABC, and make on-demand WITH fast forward)

     

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    Perplexed, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 1:48pm

    Wait a minute. What the hell does this have to do with government regulations? This kind of shit comes from corporations, not government. I think Mitch might be a little confused.

    It's not like corporations would want you to have cheap cable and be able to skip ads, if it weren't for government intervention. On the contrary, they would do everything in their power to make things as expensive and frustrating as possible whether government existed or not.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 1:59pm

    I'm waiting for the commercials to use subliminal messages that are only effective when fast forwarding.

    I can usually tell which commercials where shown even while fast forwarding, so maybe they already do something like that.

     

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    Freedom, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 2:09pm

    ABC drives people to BitTorrent Sites...

    The only thing this will do is encourage people to get their shows via BitTorrent and the like.

    The old business model is dead. Time to start thinking of a new way to generate revenue.

    I've been using Tivo and PC based alternatives for years now and haven't purposely watched a commercial for years except for the Superbowl (although I must admit that sometimes I forget to fast forward). Frankly, I figured they'd already figured it out as in-show ad-placement is nuts (i.e. American Idol and Coke).

    As interactive media (i.e. games and the like) become more and more the norm, TV Shows and Movies will become less appealing.

    Freedom

     

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    Greg Andrew, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 2:17pm

    Cable tv never promised commercial free programming, aside from pay movie channels like HBO and some of the original sports channels. Cable was originally, after all, just a way to let people who couldn't receive over-the-air broadcast stations with an antenna receive those signals. That was true until the 1970s, when a few commercial free stations came along. By the end of the 1970s, however, an explosion of advertising-supported cable channels began to fill up cable networks

    And government regulation had nothing to do with any of this. And government regulation certainly doesn't have anything to do with why cable bills are so high. It's more the lack of government regulation that's the problem - the fact that government allowed cable companies to become monopolies. The government should have separated the infrastructure from those selling content, but the government didn't do its job and let the cable companies control every part of the business.

     

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    Tivo thumb is buff, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 2:23pm

    For me, the problem with commercials is the one size fits all mentality. Let's see, I am not in the market for a car, don't like beer, don't need Cialis or Viagra and don't have small children. I have not been injured in an accident, exposed to asbestos or need a scooter to get around.

    I do watch a new entertaining commercial...once because I was entertained. Seeing it again is boring. How many times have you seen the same commercial two, or more times in the same 5 minute set?

    If the broadcasters think that they can stop people from buying DVRs with an offering like this are dumber than they thing that we are.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 2:31pm

    PixelPusher, here is the question. Did you buy a Ford?

    That is what advertising is about.

     

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    John, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 3:27pm

    Not suprising

    This kind of thinking is not surprising, considering it comes from Disney, the people who force your to watch trailers and commercials on their DVD's *before* watching the movie.

    If I'm watching "The Lion King", sure, I might be interested in watching a trailer for the next animated movie or even the next Disney/ Pixar movie coming to DVD.
    But I don't want to see trailers for direct-to-DVD movie crap like "Snow Dogs 3: Caught in the Snow".
    And I really don't need to see commercials for the "next great American drama coming this fall to ABC" which will very probably be cancelled by the following January. Does anyone remember "Commander in Chief"?

    If I want to watch trailers or commercials, make it an *option*. Maybe my kids want to see the "Snow Dogs" trailer, but don't force me to see it every single frikking time I put the DVD in the player, especially when I want to watch the movie!

    The same is true here: if you force people to watch commercials (that they don't want to watch in the first place), then you'll force them to find some way around it: either by hacking the DVR or not buying the unit (good way to increase sales for Cox!) or by not watching ABC (good way to increase viewership!).

     

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      Celes, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 6:35pm

      Re: Not suprising

      I've never come across a Disney DVD where I couldn't somehow skip the trailers at the beginning. Dreamworks, on the other hand... I remember when I got my daughter Shrek 3. Our DVD player was acting up at the time and would sometimes fail when skipping chapters or selecting options. I don't remember much about the movie except that I eventually got it to play, but I do remember having to sit through the most horrible trailer ever for "Madagascar" about 7 times. Nobody in my house will EVER watch that movie. ^_^

       

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    Someone, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 3:47pm

    Miro + tvRSS = Fuck ABC

     

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    me, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 5:14pm

    ABC

    ABC= Ass backwards creeps

     

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    Andrew, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 5:17pm

    Yeah but...

    As a TiVo owner, I can tell you that they too are trying everything they can to add these corporate "shite spewing" messages to your viewing pleasure.

    First off, on some commercials (a la Geiko, GM, etc.) even when fast forwarding, you see a banner add pop up and you hear a "bong".

    Secondly, in your folders of saved shows, you can expect to be asked the world's best questions like "Do you wanna save $437 on your insurance" and "Try new Pepsi Clear"... yeah, I made that product up. But when you click on these things, it downloads a video commercial that can last up to five minutes! More new commericial spewing techniques are added to my series2 every day.

    You top all this off with the fact that TiVo costs relatively expensive in comparison to some more effective options, plus they have horrible rules about subscription swapping or hardware repair and the customer service is actually more like getting a BJ from your drunk Uncle Frank...whos been dead for ten years...

    So yeah, thanks a billion TiVo for letting me fast forward straight into Ronald McDonald's butthole every 20 seconds.

    /Sarcastic end.

     

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    Andrew, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 5:17pm

    Yeah but...

    As a TiVo owner, I can tell you that they too are trying everything they can to add these corporate "shite spewing" messages to your viewing pleasure.

    First off, on some commercials (a la Geiko, GM, etc.) even when fast forwarding, you see a banner add pop up and you hear a "bong".

    Secondly, in your folders of saved shows, you can expect to be asked the world's best questions like "Do you wanna save $437 on your insurance" and "Try new Pepsi Clear"... yeah, I made that product up. But when you click on these things, it downloads a video commercial that can last up to five minutes! More new commericial spewing techniques are added to my series2 every day.

    You top all this off with the fact that TiVo costs relatively expensive in comparison to some more effective options, plus they have horrible rules about subscription swapping or hardware repair and the customer service is actually more like getting a BJ from your drunk Uncle Frank...whos been dead for ten years...

    So yeah, thanks a billion TiVo for letting me fast forward straight into Ronald McDonald's butthole every 20 seconds.

    /Sarcastic end.

     

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    anonymous, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 5:29pm

    You can't fix anything by breaking it...

    Think about how they "fixed" coke, now we have "coke classic"...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 5:31pm

    Why dont they just......

    Why dont they just figure a way to put a banner or something on the screen that is view while you fast forward???????? Then, we get to skip the crap, but the advertisers still get some recognition.

    Of course this wont work with the 30 sec jump if you have it enabled.

     

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    Michael F, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 5:56pm

    TiVo could Save themselves and TV if they just...

    Came out with a free TiVO with no subscription charge that made views watch four 30 second commercials per hour.

    - You would not be able to fast forward through those at all.

    - Since they only last 30 seconds it is very likely those commercials would be viewed by those on the couch.

    - Viewing only four makes you pay more attention.

    - Some companies could buy all four spots and air an little mini show over 2 minutes.

    You get the idea...

     

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    José Luis, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 6:28pm

    I agree with comment 19. I do have a VCR (and use it because it works for me). I fast forward scanning at the image without paying any attention and i'm very good at it. Is a thing that we (humans) can do in an automatic way, with things that don't interest us.

    Some scientists from the World Health Organization (or your CDC) should investigate this mind debilitating decease that is spreading across big media companies. There is much to learn on how things spread on such closed groups.

    The most interesting thing, however, is that this is not a problem that is related to the DVR, or the VCR, or the remote control (you used to zap, didn't you?).

    Don't you people take leaks in commercials?
    Don't you people go to the kitchen to get some snack?

    Are these guys morons?

    BREATH-TAKING NEWS: tv viewers have been skipping ads from the very first day of tv!!!

     

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    José Luis, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 6:46pm

    I've kept think about this.

    TV executives are not morons, they are just mediocre in their work. They are used to measure their success by companies getting bigger as a result of economy expansion.

    Now, the business is changing (because of technology and the ability to measure success), and they don't know what to do because they are mediocre, so they blame the first stupid thing that comes to their mind (like remote's fast forward).

    The same blaming did the record companies, telcos when mobile started (but they where able to buy/build mobile operators), oil companies have been pushing to stop alternative energy.

     

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    dave, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 6:49pm

    yep just a bunch of cox

    their name says it all. we pay for cable tv. the commercials on network tv were a way of paying for the programming by watching them. since we pay a premium price we should have the right to not have to watch the commercials.

    davegrips

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 8:52pm

    My understanding is that this DOES NOT replace the normal ABC channel on TV that allows ad skipping but instead will offer a VOD channel where you can also watch the ABC content (with no skipping although they will have less commercials). SO I don't think anything is being taken away here.

     

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    Alessandro Abate, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 9:08pm

    The flaw in ABC's logic…

    is that people watch commercials. Since the invention of the remote commercials have been optional. There is no one person watching TV that doesn't use commercials to go to the bathroom or the fridge for a snack. It is inane to think that people sit there and watch commercials. We may be there, in front of the TV, but when the commercials come on, we tune out, we talk to our family, get a bite, take a piss and maybe if the commercial is interesting or funny we may look at it. We pay attention to commercials peripherally unless the content interests us. Even if you force the commercials on the audience, you cannot force them to watch. Even with my TiVo, I sometimes wait for the commercial before I take a break.

    The problem is that the TV broadcasters have to maintain this fiction that people are watching commercials to the advertisers. Before DVRs it was easier to maintain the fiction that most people watched their commercials. Now DVRs make it painfully clear to those advertisers that we tune out. Sorry, the truth hurts but it will set you free. Make your commercials interesting or don't bother. People are bombarded with commercial messages on every kind of media. We have learned to ignore 99.99% of these messages. In order to break through the massive clutter, the advertiser's commercial message has to be different and compelling. Broadcasters can force commercials upon us, but like the proverbial horse refusing to drink, they can't force us to watch them.

     

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    Brad, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 9:10pm

    ABC & COX

    Could someone please overnight an enormous reality check to these brain donors? Very little would inspire me more to avoid Cox Communications & ABC programming than to be forced to watch commercials. Once you've experienced the liberty, your never going back. Time for an alternate business model guys...oh, the pain, the pain.

     

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    Nick Rawlins, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 9:50pm

    The truth is that the traditional network television business model is doomed. Soon television will revert back to the way old radio shows were produced with one or two large sponsors that do product placement and use those shows to promote their product. The merchandising and copyrights will be owned by the sponsoring company. Disney just needs to realize that they can't keep their own business models when consumers will eventually just buy the dvd boxed sets with no commercials to avoid the network advertising crap.

     

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    Griper, Feb 25th, 2008 @ 9:54pm

    The only time I sat there to watch the commercials was when I came back from overseas after serving in the military. The Armed Forces Network remove the commercials from network shows and inserts PSA's. After 2 years of the history of stapler I was ready to watch anything with bright colors and snappy music. It only lasted 2 months or so, after that, the thrill wore off. Now I skip through everything.

     

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    Earl, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 5:58am

    A Modest Proposal

    How about interesting, European-style commercials (not the annoying drivel that passes for TV advertising these days) and fewer ads, both in terms of fewer ads per break and fewer breaks? In Germany, ads come in long blocks, but they're often quite entertaining!

    The TV geniuses in the US seem to be caught in their own downward spiral of: "Viewership and ad revenue is down, so we need to insert more ad availabilities to boost revenue, which alienates the viewers, so viewership and ad revenue goes down....."

     

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    Anon, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 6:27am

    Doh!

    Almost as stupid as RIAA and the recording industry as a whole. They offer lesser products at higher prices and do not accomidate current technology at all and take advantage of it, instead combating it at every turn or ignoring it on the whole. Nice.

     

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    Michael Lile, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 7:01am

    Thank God for non-Tivo DVRs

    I myself am an old man tech-wise. I still own a VCR for recording off "live" TV (may even get a converter box). Even then, I never have owned Tivo, and never will, so I will not be affected by this lump of dingo's kidneys.

    Tivo's marketing model is simple: $10-20/month for recording, or $300+ for lifetime. You wish to know what I pay? $20/YEAR for a schedule only (can still DVR, just convenience). Tivo also is influenced by signals that can shut it down/black it out. Mine is not. I can record and watch it anytime I want, and FF and rewind through commercials. ABC can't stop me from it, nor can NFL.

    Long live Archos!

     

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    Jason, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 7:45am

    There are some comments that make me wonder...

    I think there are some people that just fast-forward, or don't bother with that because they have to sit through it, and still see the commercials, even if they don't actually watch them. Wrong. I don't know if I can explain how great Tivo is. My Tivo is an old one, a Series II and only a single tuner. The 30-second skip was a hack for the remote that wasn't included in the manual, but obviously programmed in by the manufacturer secretly because they didn't want to scare The Man. Well, The Man's antiquated business model has failed just fine by itself, thank you.

    Select-Play-Select-3-0-Select. Memorize it, Tivo owners. That will make your forward skip button into a 30 second skip button, at least on the old Tivos. A commercial break comes on, 4 quick button pushes, and you're golden. I honestly don't know if that works on the new Tivos, or if they already have a button for it. They should. By the way, you'll have to reenter that code if the power goes out to the box, so write it down.

    As for Comcast DVR remotes, I was a cable guy until two years ago, and this remote hack worked then. My boss said to keep it secret, because there was talk of a lawsuit if we started programming it for customers. I usually did, and told them they really, really, really might want to try out the A button after I left. Cable-hold the setup button-994-setup-00173-A. This will make your A button the 30-second skip button, so you could pick another convenient button there if you want to. The problem is, Motorola and the other companies made several Comcast DVRs with different software, so this hack only worked about half the time. It's worth a shot, though.

    Just google "Comcast remote hacks" or find the Tivo forums, because this stuff is very public, now.

    There is no reason to not have a DVR, whether it be Tivo or Comcast or even dish. YOU NEVER HAVE TO WATCH COMMERCIALS AGAIN, and you shave 16 minutes off of every hour you watch, and more with most sports. F commercials. F on-demand. F Amazon-on-demand on Tivo for 6 bucks a movie. F Comcast and all the others for every thing they do to screw their customers. F the antiquated business models just there to get your money. Think for yourself. Question authority.

     

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    Jason, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 8:20am

    My God...

    We'll see how this plays out, and see what happens when there is no more analog over-air. I'll be damned if I'm gonna pay more to Comcast, or if ABC or Tivo or anyone else actually starts forcing me to watch commercials. I already requested my vouchers for the set-tops for the conversion, and my Tivo Series 2, but I'm ready to kill my TV as it is. The only reason I would come back is if A La Carte programming was in place. By the way, as I mentioned above, I was a cable guy for two years, and with digital cable, there is NO reason other than money that you have to get the extra BS channels you never watch. Plain and simple, the little stations, sensing their imminent demise, would sue if Comcast or Cox or DirectTV stopped including them in some package.

    I am so ready to go off the grid, but I can't afford $30K for solar, and still need water and sewer for my house in the suburbs. F Skynet. Now, get off my lawn!

     

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    tv watcher, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 10:06am

    "Ah! But the next "enhancement" will be to automatically turn up the volume and disable mute, so when you leave the room, you still have to listen to the commercial."

    I have actually noticed that many commercials tend to be louder than the shows they appear in. It's very annoying.

    "Where is the free business model here? Will everything end up like HBO and pay TV?"

    Actually, this is the one thing they haven't tried yet, and for the life of me I can't figure out why they're so afraid to do it. Right now you can a) pay a large sum for 'buffet' access, with a lot of shows and channels you don't want, and tiem-shift them with generally inadequate DVRs; or b) by shows individually from iTunes for 2 bucks a pop, which are inherently time-shifted because you own them... but it's incredibly expensive - a month of buying The Daily Show is about as expensive as a month of complete cable TV access!

    Why don't networks allow time-shifted access to their entire programming lines for a single monthly fee? It works for HBO... why not $12/month for all of ABC, and $12/month for all of Fox? Why not let studios sell syndicated content directly to consumers, without the advertising middlemen? Why not let each consumer decide which model works best for them?

     

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    Soupgoblin, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 11:23am

    Silly peoples

    For the last year and a half I have been using a computer as a DVR, to heck with paying for Tivo and their service, to heck with the usless cable DVR features, it can anything that those devices can do, plus, I can save everything to an external drive or record it onto DVD.

     

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    Tom, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 6:03pm

    Silly peoples

    In response to post number 77... it's kind of odd watching TV on a computer. Just not the same for me. I'll pay for TiVo anyday.

     

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    john smith, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 10:05pm

    ABC sucks anyways

    Name one show..beside LOST..that people will seriously miss! i cant think of 1...if you say "the nanny" or "wife swap" just remember you can see all of these at anytime on abc.com. But seriously...ABC, Anne Sweeney and Ray Cole are so stupidly crazy about this plan of their's working. It wouldn't surprise me if they still think that there WERE weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that we didn't just go over there for OIL, and that Bush cares about anyone making less than half a million dollars. Pathetic!

    OBAMA 08!! (if you want Clinton...watch "Sicko" the movie from Michael Moore..and you won't vote for her) and to those of you who want Mccain to be President...there is no hope for you anyways..your so stupid..that you shouldn't be allowed to vote anyways!

     

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    pv, Feb 26th, 2008 @ 10:20pm

    I once worked for a company that measured TV audience figures for advertisers. I seem to remember they did a study on people watching ads on VCRs on fast-forward, found they did take in much of it, and then factored that in to the figures.

    I live in the UK, but lived in the US for years, and my God, your ads are annoying! Don't mean to offend anyone, but they are much crappier than ours (I don't find UK ads much of a problem, they're sometimes quite witty) and certainly they go on for 10 times as long.

    I also notice that you _used_ to have worse TV than we do (or at least, much blander), but since the advent of the likes of HBO the best US stuff is actually way better than ours (Curb Your Enthusiasm vs Little Britain - no contest), from which I conclude that dependency on advertisers has a bad effect on US television quality.

    What do people think of ad-blocker plug-ins on browsers? On reflection I decided not to use one, 'cos I don't want it to end up where decent sites are all subscription only.

    And surely there are only 3 alternatives for TV - ads, subscription fees, or a BBC type system, with a compulsory subscription fee for everyone? No amount of complaining about 'failing business models' is going to change that, surely?

     

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    Greg Stuart, Mar 3rd, 2008 @ 4:49am

    It's a tough place to be

    TV, as an ad supported media is in a really tough place, but in part cause by themselves. They thought going to 15 minutes of commecial time would work for consumers today. It does not. Instead of innovating, as all businesses need to do, they stayed the same. Consumers supported technology that worked for them.

    This is sad that ABC thought this approach would work. They need to do something different, likely changing commercial formats, adding addressable technologies, etc.

    The truth is that the consumer is always right and here they don't like a quarter hour of irrelevant, untargeted ads. Those are the facts I believe, now ABC and others should figure out what do do.

     

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