There’s a battle currently raging in the television industry. DISH Network made a big splash with the introduction of its Hopper whole-home DVR system. The reviews I have seen for the Hopper have been good and reviewers seem to be impressed with the system’s features.
Even though gadget reviewers and television viewers seem to be impressed with the Hopper’s features and functionality, there are some folks that aren’t too happy with a particular feature that makes skipping commercials easier than ever.
Network TV executives are not pleased that the Hopper allows viewers to automatically skip commercials during replay of certain primetime network television programs.
I’m spoiled. I admit it. I’ve been skipping commercials since the VCR was introduced to the consumer market back in the early 1980’s. It was a lot more tedious in those days since “fast forward” was the only option we had to blast through commercials with the VCR, but it got the job done and it was a lot better than sitting through the same commercials over and over again.
When I joined the rest of the 21st Century and got myself a DVR about six years ago I was thrilled to discover the “skip ahead” button on the remote control! One push of that button skips ahead about 30 seconds or so when one is watching a recorded program. That yellow button is, without a doubt, the most-used button on my remote control.
As one might expect, lawsuits and the threats of lawsuits are coming at DISH from the big networks. Although they seem to have accepted the fact that the advent of the VCR gave TV viewers the right to skip commercials, they are fighting tooth and nail to prevent commercial-skipping from going to the next level.
What the network executives don’t seem to understand is that a commercial-skipper is a commercial-skipper is a commercial-skipper. Maybe that doesn’t read so well, but I think you get the point. Someone like me is going to skip commercials using whatever means I have at my disposal. The genie is out of the bottle and has been since the early 1980’s and there’s no putting it back now.
Like I said before, I am spoiled. If I had to guess, I’d say about 95 percent of the TV programming I watch is recorded. As such, I don’t see many TV commercials. Most of them are boring, many of them are stupid, very few of them are actually well-done and almost all of them are repeated so many times during the airing of one program that it can make a TV viewer want to scream.
I’ll be the first to admit that some people have a higher tolerance for commercials. For example, my wife seems to watch TV in real time and has little or no problem with commercials. Note to TV executives: There’s your target market!
For me a commercial is akin to an assault on my senses. In addition, it’s also a waste of my time. The vast majority of the programs I record are an hour in length. Skipping commercials gets me through one of those programs in about 45 minutes or a little less. If I watch two hour-long programs, that saves me at least 30 minutes. Time well-worth saving in my opinion.
I think I’d be more tolerant of TV commercials if they weren’t pushed to the limit. A few nights ago I was particularly bored. I don’t usually have that problem, but this particular night was an exception and I decided to just go into the living room and sit down in front of the TV and see what my wife was watching. Unfortunately, there are few programs that we both enjoy watching so I knew I was taking a risk.
She happened to be watching America’s Got Talent, a primetime talent competition (like we needed another one of those!) that airs on one of the big networks. Fortunately for me, it is one of the shows she likes to watch that I can actually sit and watch for a while without losing my mind.
Although the show itself is tolerable I was surprised (yeah, actually surprised!) to see how many commercials were aired during that show! They would show a contestant perform their act, show the judges comments and then go to a commercial break. Time and time again they did that. One contestant, then a commercial break. I think there was one instance where they actually showed to contestants and then the commercial break but that definitely was the exception and not the rule.
I wish I had thought to be a bit more scientific about it and actually count the commercials, but I did not. Maybe I will in the future if I can stand it. However, I’m going to take a guess that each commercial break included about eight commercials. There may have actually been more, but again, I did not count them. I was beginning to think that there was as much time spent airing commercials as there was airing the program!
It got to the point where I started watching a program that was recorded on the DVR during the commercial breaks and I was amazed to find out how much of the recorded program I was able to watch!
These days it’s likely that the majority of TV viewers are paying for their viewing privileges by subscribing to cable or satellite TV. That’s something that seems to be lost on the TV executives at the big networks. If I’m paying for a service, I’m going to use it the way I want to use it.
In this case, that means skipping commercials and for commercial-skippers like me, that means I am going to skip commercials whether it is done automatically by my DVR or whether I have to sit there and press a yellow button on my remote control a few times every time a commercial comes on.