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Television Media The Almighty Buck

Will TiVo Destroy Ad-Supported TV? 943

windowpain writes "According to a column in Television Week, the increasing popularity of digital video recorders will actually cause a decline in ad revenues in the next few years. 'The rollout of DVR-type technology ... will reach critical mass with 11 percent penetration of U.S. television households by 2005 and 15 percent by 2006...As a result, five-year earnings growth for TV station groups could fall from as much as 10 percent to as low as 4 percent.' Why? DVR users skip at least two-thirds of commercials and the 'collective impact represents a threat to revenue and cash flow growth that cannot be offset ... Fifteen percent DVR penetration implies that 9.1 percent of all ads would not be watched and that advertisers would be overpaying by 9.1 percent, or $6.6 billion as calculated from projected 2006 total ad revenues of $72 billion.' And another business model goes down in flames."
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Will TiVo Destroy Ad-Supported TV?

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  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:31AM (#7597187)
    There are other ways to advertise on TV besides commerical breaks, advertisers will just have to adapt.
    • What, like movies? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BiggerIsBetter ( 682164 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:48AM (#7597271)

      • Italian Job == Mini (BMW) advertisment
      • Tomb Raiders == Land Rover then Jeep adverstisement
      • Mission Impossible == Apple advertisment
      • Top Gun == RayBan advertisement
      • The African Queen == Gordens Gin advertisement
      • etc...

      The question is, is it subliminal or not (read illegal)? And does it even work? Personally, I've gotten very good at filtering advertising...

      • by CGP314 ( 672613 ) <(ten.remlaPyrogerGniloC) (ta) (PGC)> on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:30AM (#7597417) Homepage
        Personally, I've gotten very good at filtering advertising...

        And by filtering I'm sure you mean 'I watched the above movies but couldn't tell you what they were ads for'.
        • No. I mean, 'I watched some of the above movies but they didn't make me want to go and buy stuff.'

          I've seen it written that if you notice advertising in movies, it's too obvious. I don't know if that's true because if you miss it, maybe you won't buy it later... but that aside, just because I see something doesn't mean I want it. Possibly that works on teens, but late-20's geeks need a little more. "Cool" isn't enough.

          • by ghjm ( 8918 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:56AM (#7598533) Homepage
            Most advertising is not trying to get you to run out and buy a product today. Late-night TV carries "Call Now!" ads, but this type of advertising is not suitable for product placement. (After all, you're not likely to run out in the middle of the movie to buy a Land Rover!)

            Instead, the purpose of most advertising is to create or increase brand equity. The idea is to affect your thinking months or years from now, when you (or someone like you) are actually in the market for a new SUV. If your final choice is between a Land Rover and a Glurnmobile, you will presumably have a sense of familiarity and relative comfort attached to the Land Rover. It's not that you agreed with the points the ad was making, or that you felt particularly attached to the Land Rover at the time you saw the ad - it's that if you keep hearing about Land Rover over and over, through the years you will eventually accept that Land Rover is a longstanding and reputable brand of SUV. But nobody ever heard of Glurnmobile before today, so you will probably want to do a more careful analysis of the Glurnmobile product before you buy it. Which in turn means you're more likely to buy a Land Rover.

            Of course, in the automotive market, there are no Glurnmobiles. It's inconceivable that someone could jump through all the investor and regulatory hoops to bring out a new type of car, and not make sure people knew about it. Nevertheless, brand equity still depends on the amount of advertising and the length of time it has been going on. What do you think of Kia vs. Land Rover? What are your reasons for thinking what you think?

            Note that human beings are wired to defend their conceptual systems against (whatever they perceive as) assault. If you believe X and someone comes along preaching not-X then you attack them, or at least defend yourself. If you believe X and Y and someone comes along preaching that X implies not-Y, the effect is the same. So: Many Slashdotters no doubt believe that (a) Land Rovers are of higher quality than Kias, and (b) that their own thinking is not affected by advertising. I am saying that the major reason to believe that a Land Rover is better is in fact the advertising, particularly the length of time they have been advertising. This challenges (b) unless you can prove that Land Rovers are objectively better. Therefore it is to be expected that many people will jump in and insist that Land Rovers have variable (blurble) with intermittently assisted (gnashing of teeth).

            Instead, consider this: Insisting that you are unaffected by advertising is the same as claiming you have never been had by a troll. This is false: You are a social mammal with fairly predictable responses. This gives the trolls and advertisers their edge. No matter how l33t you may be, there's always a smarter troll (or a better advertiser) who has your number.

      • by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:59AM (#7597519)
        Italian Job == Mini (BMW) advertisment
        Tomb Raiders == Land Rover then Jeep adverstisement
        Mission Impossible == Apple advertisment
        Top Gun == RayBan advertisement
        The African Queen == Gordens Gin advertisement

        The question is, is it subliminal or not (read illegal)? And does it even work? Personally, I've gotten very good at filtering advertising...

        I'd say your filter needs updating - it seems a number of ads are getting by and making an impression on you...

        Seriously, product placement will probably be the next big wave - since one goal of an ad is to get you to remember the product.
      • by Chris Worth ( 18843 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:03AM (#7597538) Homepage
        Btw - you may have misunderstood what's meant by subliminal advertising. It's not illegal, nor does it even exist.

        'Subliminal' advertising - in this case, flashing a logo onscreen for too short a time to be consciously perceived - happened once, as part of a carefully-controlled experiment, in one cinema many decades ago. It's never been used since except as a spoof. And no, product placement isn't subliminal - otherwise, walking down the street would count! (Look at all those BMWs and Toyotas driving past! Gotta get me some of that!)

        • by BiggerIsBetter ( 682164 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:29AM (#7597642)

          No, I used the word intentionally.

          Below the threshold of conscious perception. Used of stimuli. is from The American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, and similar definitions are provided by Websters and others.

          When most folks see The Italian Job, they don't realise the Minis are there as advertising. They see a neat little car with cool people driving fast - they are not conscious of being subjected to advertising, compared to say TV where they can consciously "switch off" when the ads come on. That's why I say "subliminal". Sure, it's not Coke ads flashing bewteen frames, but many people are unaware that it is happenning.

          Technically, you are correct about the legality. The FCC said in 1974 only that it was contrary to the public interest.

        • by Tomun ( 144651 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:51AM (#7598107)
          Subliminal' advertising - [...] happened once, as part of a carefully-controlled experiment, in one cinema many decades ago

          No it didnt. []

      • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:25AM (#7597621) Homepage
        Yes, of course it works. American culture is completely shaped by the movie and TV industries; you think that advertising doesn't seap through?
        Movies and TV have been successfully 'advertising' lifestyles (and their accompanying trinkets and trends) for years and years - much longer than the current "lifestyle" adverts that we've seen in the last 5 years or so (Mt. Dew being a big "lifestyle" brand). Unlike traditional ads (generally), however, TV and movies get you involved in the plot, characters, and situations, thus increasing your desire all the more - unlike most ads, which we tune out (and thus why advertisers try their damnedest to create witty ads). Someone is much more likely to buy a Desert Eagle handgun if Lara Croft is using it in the movie (sweet! a chick with a gun! I want one just like that! maybe it'll make me just like her/find a girl just like her), than if they were to see a subsequent ad on TV or as a trailer advertising the gun itself.

        The most obvious examples that you'll see almost everywhere are: clothing, soda, furniture (if I buy the furniture on The Cosby Show, I'll be witty and have a perfect family), and the like. Some specifics off the top of my head:

        Terminator (and others like it): leather jackets and other things 80's.

        The Matrix - leather catsuits, trenchcoats, sunglasses, technology appeal, etc.

        James Bond - cars, watches, pens, cologne, beer, soda, women (woot!), sex, etc.

        Fast and the Furious (I and II): cars, performance parts, soda, clothing, sex

        Wayne's World I and II: Pepsi, Doritos, etc. (done ingeniously, I might add)

        even LotR: trinkets from the movies, books, soundtracks

      • by plumby ( 179557 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:12AM (#7597868)
        Mission Impossible == Apple advertisment

        When was the last time you saw a TV program or movie where they didn't use a Mac? Even my wife, who understands virtually nothing about computers, goes "Oh look, they're using an Apple" on a regular basis (her knowledge extends to identifying them by the big apple on the side).

    • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aug24 ( 38229 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:29AM (#7597411) Homepage
      Too right. I use a TiVo and I haven't taking in any advertising for over a year. I assume that we will move more towards one of
      • pay-to-view programmes
      • pay-to-view channels
      • blip-verts
      • embedded advertising.
      Only blip-verts could be more annoying than a traditional ad break.


    • Colgate Comedy Hour (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:37AM (#7597441)
      I have a great old recording of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" routine. The funny thing is, they're asking about "the players on this here Colgate team." I believe it was performed for the Colgate Comedy Hour.

      The amount of commercial breaks we have now is a recent development. It was a change to go to this model - another change won't kill TV. We'll have end up with the Dr.Pepper Late Late Show, where the host and all guests are always drinking a clearly labeled bottle of Dr.Pepper (or maybe some other Pepsi product).
      In-show product shots, product references and product promos were - and can again become - the norm. Ever watch The Price is Right? Those fabulous product descriptions by the smooth voiced announcer who always used the full slogan of the product.

      A different advertising model won't kill TV. Bad shows and far better alternate forms of entertainment (we've all seen the growth in video game revenues - especially the online games, which often taken up people's "prime time" evening slot).

      No Clue.
    • Adapt - exactly! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mackstann ( 586043 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:00AM (#7597524) Homepage
      The cable companies and television networks will lose out because their business model is ancient. Only in recent years have cable companies slightly innovated with digital cable. But digital cable sucks. Changing channels is laggy, and it's really not *that* much different from normal cable (at least compared to a tivo).

      To keep up with stuff like tivo, the cable companies will need to (gasp) compete with it. Come up with something that meets or beats the functionality, convenience, and price point of PVRs. But unfortunately I can picture what the cable companies will do instead: file lawsuits, use shady business tactics, etc. Oh well. While that might hold them over in the short- to mid-term, I think it would eventually catch up with them.
      • Re:Adapt - exactly! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ericspinder ( 146776 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:09AM (#7597846) Journal
        But digital cable sucks.
        I'd have to disagree, digital cable works well for me. The on-screen quide has become very important to my tv viewing, and the on-demand movies and programs are becoming so as well. On related news, Comcast is starting to deploy DVRs included in (or with) their set top boxes, it is what people are pushing for and like any *cough* good company they are deploying what the customer whats (I am really mixed on that last part). Of course they are just adding a service for which people are willing to pay. However, I wouldn't be suprise if the device does some heavy logging/ reporting of your TV viewing patterns.

        Where I see the industury going in the future is more to the "pay TV" standard, with the price of a channel is included in your package. Some cable companys already include "comercial-less" channels in their various packages. It might even get to the point where if you want the history channels package you'll need to pay $2/month, the news package of CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC will be another $2/month. The stations themselves will have more pay-for-placement and inline ads. The cable companies will have in-line flash-like ads for the various menus (static ads are already there for digital cable). Also, I believe that good story-telling ads will become more important, where people even choose to watch the ads because they are funny, interesting or touching. With on demand tuning you might even be tempted to say "hey, man, play the new Subway ads they're side-splitting funny". Ads which the viewer choose to watch are certainly much more effective.

    • Re:Nope (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Gojira Shipi-Taro ( 465802 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:08AM (#7597840) Homepage

      Viewers evidentally skip at least 2/3 of commercials anyhow. The Tivo (or ReplayTV) statistics simply make people more aware of that fact.

      I know that before I got my ReplayTV, I didn't sit in rapt attention during every commercial break.

      Even WITH the Replay, I see enough of a given commercial to know if it applies to something I'm interested in buying, ir is in any way entertaining. I tend to watch a commercial if its of use to me.

      Maxi-pad commercials and FTD Florist shilling, I skip.

      I did it before Replay, I'll continue to do it.

      No one's business model is being destroyed here.

      Nothing has changed to any appreciable degree. People are able to make more efficent use of their TV watching time, and still get exposed to commercials. They just don't have to waste time on commercials that would NEVER RESULT IN A SALE ANYHOW.
  • Ironically (Score:5, Funny)

    by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <> on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:31AM (#7597189) Homepage Journal
    I find that skipping the programs to get to the commercials to be more interesting than the other way around.
    • Re: Ironically (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot ( 19622 )

      > I find that skipping the programs to get to the commercials to be more interesting than the other way around.

      That's probably the best strategy for finding soft porn.

  • I don't get it? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cablepokerface ( 718716 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:31AM (#7597190)
    When it's conventionally taped, don't you skip the commercials as well?
    • Re:I don't get it? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:02AM (#7597316) Homepage
      In the UK, a lot of adverts on the ad-supported channels are deliberately shot and cut to make more sense when you fast-forward past them.
    • Re:I don't get it? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thynk ( 653762 ) <> on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:02AM (#7597322) Homepage Journal
      Exactly! I own a TiVo with my dish (week 2 - still the newest toy in the house).

      Skipping over the commercials works great for stuff that's been recorded, but isn't very effective on live tv (you *could* pause it for 2 mintues then skip over them). About the only time I'll do any skipping on "live tv" is to play catch up if I needed to pause the program for some reason or another (potty break, g/f talking about something, feeding the little one, etc).

      Few nice features are the pause and slow motion buttons. They get as much use duing the victoria's secret commercials as the ff button gets during the rest of them ;-)
      • Re:I don't get it? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rich0 ( 548339 )
        Simple - just start watching your favorite 1-hour TV show 20 minutes after it starts. You'll see the end at the same time as everyone else in the world, and have 20 extra minutes to do whatever suits your fancy.

        Me - I only have a general clue when my favorite shows are on. I don't have the time to drop whatever I'm doing and run over to the TV because some network exec decides that show xyz should be on at time 123. And many stations rerun their new episodes in the middle of the night, so if shows confl
    • Re:I don't get it? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kramer2718 ( 598033 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:42AM (#7597459) Homepage
      Actually, I even skip the commercials when watching live TV without a DVR.

      It's called changing the channel until the commercial is over!
      • by AKnightCowboy ( 608632 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:13AM (#7597581)
        It's called changing the channel until the commercial is over!

        Don't you know that you're essentially stealing that programming by not watching the commercials? Just like copyright infringement is theft, so is skipping commercials. See, in our new enlightened society dominated by our mass-media overlords, anything that fails to generate revenue for them is called theft.

  • by heldlikesound ( 132717 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:32AM (#7597192) Homepage
    If people are talking about a show, and saying it's really good, I ussally just rent the first season on DVD, if it's good, me and my girlfriend rent the next, and so on. We've watched all 4 seasons of the Sopranos, as well as the first two seasons of 24, Simpson I don't worry about, becuase i buy those box sets anyway. We also tune in for the occasional Discovery Channel feature, or some good college football, other than that TV is shite, but hopefully I didn't have to tell you that.
  • by Glyndwr ( 217857 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:32AM (#7597196) Homepage Journal
    Now, I don't like advert breaks and I don't like the rampant commercialism they imply, but seriously: isn't this going to make a lot of TV unprofitable? So what happens now? Will less TV be made? Will good shows magically suceed and only bad shows not get made (fat chance)? Or will the overall proportion of "World's Blankiest Blank" shows increase (seems likely)?

    Perhaps DVD box sets are the answer.. but then again, if the only money was in the DVD release, why do TV at all? And anyway, Futurama sells by the truckload and that still got cancelled. I suspect the real answer is "new and insidious advertising methods". Hurrah for FCC-approved "cannot skip" bits, coming soon to a digital TV adbreak near you! And hurrah too for product placement! You must buy Pepsi, because Joey Tribbiani does!

    Not that I can see a way to put this genie back in the bottle, admittedly. Ah well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see what whacky adventures come next.
    • by akuma(x86) ( 224898 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:53AM (#7597290)
      ...but then again, if the only money was in the DVD release, why do TV at all

      Nobody is going to shell out hard earned dollars on DVD box sets of content they have never seen or know nothing about. You could think of the television shows as advertisements for the DVDs. Perhaps this will cause the quality of shows to improve because if the show sucks, nobody is going to buy the dvd. This is a pretty strong incentive.

      Or perhaps this will lead to the pay-per-view system dominating the ratings. This has worked for HBO quite well.

      The Tivo/DVR watchers are skipping the commercials because for the most part they are annoying. This should be seen as a strong feedback signal to the advertisers that their methods do more to annoy than to inform.

      Perhaps Hollywood isn't entitled to the gravy train that has been going on for the past 40 years or so and they might have to *gasp* INNOVATE, like everybody else to maintain a healthy profitable business.
      • The Tivo/DVR watchers are skipping the commercials because for the most part they are annoying. This should be seen as a strong feedback signal to the advertisers that their methods do more to annoy than to inform.

        oh, for a mod point.

        • Advertisers have this attitude that you're obligated to watch thier shit. I know it's a huge industry and all, but jesus people, get it together. Pay less money to agencies - there's no reason you need to spend a million and a half on a commercial. Try spending 500 grand each on 3 commercials, so that I don't see the same 10 commercials in the same order every 45 minutes. It should be a mortal sin to play the same commercial back to back. Theres alot of untapped ground in commercials - and NONE of it has an
    • by weave ( 48069 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:57AM (#7597303) Journal
      What about cable on demand service? Right now I can watch a lot of stuff "on demand" by flipping through a menu and selecting the show I want. If they offered network shows without commercials, I'd be willing to pay like 50 cents to watch each one.

      Oh, I'm sorry, that would KILL TV advertising industry, but should I care? I get enough advertising crap all the time anyway. At least with on demand, the tv shows would still make money. The networks would just recoup their cost directly from the consumer instead of advertisers and I'd only have to waste 22 or 44 minutes of my life instead of a 30 minutes or an hour respectively.

      Between that and DVD box sets (which I figured I paid almost $1000 last year alone for), I think there's still a profitable world out there for TV production companies.

    • by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:01AM (#7597315) Homepage Journal
      It's very simple. When technology renders a business model obsolete, the obvious answer is to make using that technology a crime!
  • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:33AM (#7597200)
    So, 72 BILLION a year just for TV advertising, of which 90% is trying to convince consumers to spend as much as possible on things that they very probably hadn't even imagined they would ever want - and then to replace those with the newer model ever 6 months.

    Will anyone really lose too much sleep over this?

    Of course there will be a fight - how DARE consumers want to avoid being hearded like so many sheep! the very thought of it.

    Would it really be that bad to pay for the entertainment you want, rather than simply being fed the entertainment, and advertising, that they want to give you?

    Then again I work in TV, but very rarely watch it. Maybe I'm just plain wrong.
    • Sorry, I just can't leave it alone... In his "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" Jerry Mander points out that the more heavily advertised a product, the more the advertisers are aware of the fundamental fact that YOU DON'T NEED THIS PRODUCT. Advertising is ALL about creating need. If you believe you actually need Coke or Pepsi then you're already lost, "You are a slave, Neo"... Personally I despise the thing, and my life is enriched immensely simply by not watching it at all. In a nutshell, w
  • Being Screwed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mphase ( 644838 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:33AM (#7597202) Homepage
    The consumer is currently being screwed for television so cry me a river. Cable television was supposed to be ad free, that's why the consumer would pay. The additional cost of HBO and similar services illustrates that the dream of commercial free television is attainable. Television providers should stop shafting us long enough for us to pay for content we want without commercials, I'm sure that would offset PVR based losses.
    • Re:Being Screwed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nicky_d ( 92174 )
      Too right. Over here in the UK, I pay around 100 for a TV Licence, which gets me a heap of BBC TV / radio channels free of ads. Now, the TV Licence is generally unpopular, because it's seen as being rather unfair; you have to have one if you own a TV, even if you have no intention of tuning in to BBC stations. But, again, the stations are ad-free, and the BBC provides some of the finest TV out there (though it also produces its share of dross and is often accused of wasting licence money).

      We also have seve
  • by Jonah Hex ( 651948 ) <> on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:34AM (#7597203) Homepage Journal
    It really makes me sick watching some of the older shows in re-runs due to the re-editting in order to squeeze in more commercials. Twilight Zone and Warner Bros cartoons come immediately to mind. And forget trying to watch movies on ad-supported stations, damn "Compressed for Time" and "Editted for Content" can bite me.

    Jonah Hex
  • How do they tell? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OutRigged ( 573843 ) <<rage> <at> <>> on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:34AM (#7597204) Homepage
    How can they tell if you're skipping the ads or not? For that matter, how can they tell that you're even using a Tivo?

    Also, why does this not apply to VCR's? I've always fast-forwarded through commercials with a VCR. I don't see advertisement companies crying.
    • Re:How do they tell? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Stubtify ( 610318 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:47AM (#7597268)
      How do they tell? Well your PVR keeps track of things like this and the data is then fed back to the PVR company as long as you do not opt out. This was done to see which superbowl commercials were reviewed the most or what play a few years back was rewatched most often. Of course it is sent anonymously, with at most your zip code attached. If that failed they could always do a study with people in a room being watched and taking note as to how they watch PVR television. As a tivo user I feel that this number is about right, I watch almost zero commercials in recorded shows and probably as little as 50% in live shows through the use of "caching" of live shows so I don't have to be bothered by ads.

      To answer your second question, this differes from a VCR for two real reasons. One is that it is effortless to set and record sometimes up to 100 or more hours of programming. Even realistically speaking I probably tivo between 5-10 hours of programming a day. This could not be done with one single VCR and one tape, and even doing so with multiple tapes/VCR's it would never be anywhere near as easy. Second, while watching live tv a tivo user is able, automatically, to pause and then resume anything they are watching. This is the caching I spoke of above. I pause the show I want to watch live for seven minutse while I prepare dinner, shave, shower, etc. and then come back and resume the show 7 minuts behind. Whenever there is a commercial I fast forward. in this way unless its a sporting event or a show which I can't watch delayed because friends are over I rarely even see a commercial in live TV. To do this with a vcr would mean, recording, rewinding and watching the episode after it has completely finished and then missing out on whatever comes next to do so. With tivo you can do this back to back and never miss a "live" show.

  • Yeah but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Micah ( 278 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:34AM (#7597205) Homepage Journal
    Wouldn't PVR recorders tend to watch the commercials for products they are interested in and skip the ones that would obviously not apply?

    And if they watched a commercial for a product they're interested in but missed a detail like an address or phone #, they could go back and retreive it.

    So overall, it probably won't be as big a loss as is stated.

    Now, if only advertisers would make commercials we want to see. Does anyone besides me make a mad dash for the Mute button every time Detrol's "gotta go gotta go gotta go right now" commercial comes on???
    • Re:Yeah but... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TGK ( 262438 )
      At one point there was a website called It's since gone over to a pay service (thereby demonstrating exactly how sick in the head people can be... they want me to PAY to see ADS?).

      Point being people would go to this site and burn precious bandwidth downloading advertisments! Some of the best adds I've seen were on that site.

      Point being, there are examples where people will go out of their way to see a really well done add. We've all seen the Honda "Rube Goldberg" add. Everyone remembers
    • Not to mention that skipping 2/3 means they're still seeing 1/3. And since commercials tend to play in heavy rotation, they're probably still seeing most of the commercials.

      Besides, non-Tivo watchers aren't watching 100% of the commercials either. While you still "see" the commercial with a VCR, few advertisers have effectively altered their commercials to have any impact without sound and in fast forward. Not to mention the people that get up and leave the room during the commercial.

      Anyways, I've alwa
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:35AM (#7597214)
    Oh God, I hope so.
  • Product Placement (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Liselle ( 684663 ) * <slashdot&liselle,net> on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:37AM (#7597223) Journal
    The networks are pretty wily. They are already starting to shore up things with products placement directly in TV shows, of course. I read an article in Forbes about it (there were a pair of related ones in the same issue) at end of September, around when the new season was rolling out. For those of you interested and not allergic to registration, they are here [] and here [].
  • by Jesrad ( 716567 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:39AM (#7597233) Journal
    So what ? Television can sustain itself without the revenue from advertising ? Then too bad for the broadcasters, but they don't have a protected right to a profitable state of business. I, for one, am looking forward to the death of advertisement.
  • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:42AM (#7597244)
    Maybe all the super high salaries pseudo-actors in poorly written popular pabulum like "Friends" will have to adjust to reality and will only make as much as people in other professions. Or, worse yet, they might actually have to work for a living.

    The execs and everyone else are just scared because they have gotten used to being powerful and able to manipulate the rest of the world and they'll have to adjust to making what amounts to fair pay for the work they actually do.

    On the other hand, I like the model PBS uses. I like Nova, the News Hour, and a number of other shows on PBS, so I pledge regularly. The result is well written and well produced TV with quality I can count on every day of the year. Maybe other stations or cable channels will have to count on viewers paying directly in some way.

    I know most shows on the major networks would not be worth paying for, but I have no trouble paying for shows as good as Babylon 5, Farscape, or Monty Python.
    • As a result, five-year earnings growth for TV station groups could fall from as much as 10 percent to as low as 4 percent.'

      We're not predicting a loss making situation here, or even a 'borderline breakeven', we're just predicting a slowing in the rate of growth of the companies.

      Were TiVos slashing the profitability of the companies to the point where they lost money on the next 'last season' of Friends this would be a different story. As it stands they are 'not getting rich quite so quickly'. Awwww - poo
  • by Trurl's Machine ( 651488 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:44AM (#7597252) Journal
    I am old enough to remember similar prediction in 1980's. Popularity of IR-based remote control units and taping TV programs was also supposed to harm advertising - but it didn't happen. The TV commercials have changed, they are now much more witty and provocative than in 1970's and earlier (a good example of this evolution are the TV ads of Coca-Cola - they were INCREDIBLY boring in 1960's!). It turned out that people are simply too lazy to bother with switching channels or skipping ads on tape. They will also be too lazy to use TiVo. Besides, if you are not lazy, you are not a good target audience for the advertisers - if you are active enough to put some effort into skipping ads, you are probably also active enough to make your own market research and you generally don't buy something just because you saw it on TV.
  • by Maestro4k ( 707634 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:44AM (#7597256) Journal
    It's hard to feel sorry for advertisers or TV channels/groups/companies. They've done this to themselves in a big way. Look at the average commercial time per hour nowadays compared to even just 5 or 10 years ago. I know I can't stand to watch a movie on TV any longer since the commerical breaks are sometimes longer than the segments they show of the movie! (This really happened one night, the channel came back from 3 minutes of commercials to only play 4 minutes of movie, then straight back for 5 minutes of commercials. IIRC, this was The USA Network.)

    With things like that happening, they've created the market for TiVos, and helped expand it. If one of two things (or even both) happened, then TV companies would be fine. 1. Commercials need to be entertaining, not boring as hell, and 2. TV programs need to be worth watching and putting up with commercials (even if the commercials aren't entertaining.)

    I'm really surprised that they haven't figured this out already given that the Super Bowl has more people watching it for the commercials instead of the game. You'd think companies would realize spending more on a commercial that people will actually watch is worth more than spending less on a bunch noone will watch. As a bonus, people remember fun commercials, and the products better. That has to help create more demand for the product, and isn't that what advertising is all about?

    Still, I won't be surprised if this is another industry that'll take the RIAA/MPAA route of trying to get legal protection for their flawed business plan instead of fixing it. Oh joy, I can't wait until congress passes the DMAA (Digital Millienium Advertising Act) making it illegal to skip commercials, and requiring every citizen to watch 2 hours of commercials a week or they lose their cable/satellite connection.

  • Of course not. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:45AM (#7597260)

    National governments will simply step in and legislate profitability - even if they have to outlaw the new technology.

  • by rcs1000 ( 462363 ) * <rcs1000 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:45AM (#7597262)
    If everyone timeshifts, then concepts like Prime Time become useless; people watch the program they want, not the one shown at 8pm on a Tuesday evening.

    But there are major advantages to advertisers too. There is much better market segmentation; you *know* exactly how many, and what type of person watched your advert.

    It's not all bad...
    • by l-ascorbic ( 200822 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:19AM (#7597382)
      Very good point. In the years since I first got my beloved TiVo, I've grown to really appreciate it when shows are screened at weird times like 4am or 1pm when I'm at work. That way they don't clash with other stuff, and my housemates aren't going to stop the recording (KILL KILL KILL!). A year or so ago I went to a shitty conference in the hell-hole that is Cannes. One of the very few interesting seminars was a discussion involving someone from TiVo, another from the BBC and one from the advertising dept of Proctor & Gamble. The BBC guy was saying how PVRs were making them more likely to do things like repeat whole series in the middle of the night. The woman from P&G actually said she was a big fan of PVRs, as she thinks the 30 second commercial is a terrible format. This coming form one of the world's biggest TV advertisers. She said PVRs encourage new, more imaginative forms of advertisiong. She was essentially saying that they only have the ad format because everyone else uses it and they cant concede any ground in such a comptitive market.
  • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @06:47AM (#7597267)
    I have a DirecTivo and am part of the 'bad people' who will help destroy annoying commercials. As a solution, please just sell me the channels/shows I want to watch. Why am I paying for fundie nutcases like Trinity broadcasting when all I watch is 6 different channels?

    This "one-size-fits-all" method of lots of channels for a large amount of money per month is failing, not just commercials.

    I'd rather pay a 20-40 dollar bill that lets me "subscribe" to 20 or so shows with the ability to view *anything* for the first 10 or so minutes (or maybe x amount of episodes). In other words I can channel surf all I want and purchase the stuff I really like. The purchased items would be just like my "Season Pass" items.

    Arguably, this dynamic will force networks to produce decent content instead of filler and better ways to squeeze in an extra half-commercial here and there.

    TV will have to go through 'napsterization,' the genie is simply out of the bottle. A smart cable or satellite company can lead the way and make lots of money, especially targeting the "Cable is too expensive" crowd who just want Comedy Central and 2 or 3 other channels.

    The networks won't like it, but its going to be either this or DRM forced commercial watching.
  • by JumperCable ( 673155 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:03AM (#7597327)
    With the average TV show lasting only 22 minutes * [] and the rest being filled up with advertisements, the television industry has over time increased the demand for nixing all of the ads. Over 36% of our time is spent watching pure ads alone! If they had fewer ads I bet people just wouldn't bother skipping past them. Instead they would go back to the bathroom/soda/food run & actually watch the ads the other half of the time.

    The other route is to start making the ads entertaining again. The ads used to be the only reason I watched with superbowl in the first place.
  • British TV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tomah4wk ( 553503 ) <tb100 AT doc DOT ic DOT ac DOT uk> on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:05AM (#7597337) Homepage
    You americans might even get the chance to enjoy the utopia of ad free television we have with the BBC over here in the UK. Instead of being advertising funded we have a yearly TV 'license' system but absolutely no commercial advertising, and the BBC still manage to produce most of the best TV shows available, and lots of hardware for the broadcasting industry (another source of funding they have).
  • by fruey ( 563914 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:07AM (#7597345) Homepage Journal

    Business models change all the time. TV is no exception to that. People are slow to react when their moneyspinning model starts to break down - a lot of people have made that point. The broadcasters still have their heads in the sand, but progress is inevitable. I believe technology will not stifle quality because viewer choice is becoming more and more measurable, marketable, and most of all possible : you can vote with your remote on pretty much any type of content, and really pick what you want to watch.

    Taking on the start of the article -

    ... the scariest part about all of this is the lack of response from broadcasters, which do not share Wall Street's emerging sense of urgency about how DVR-type technology is being adapted more quickly and undercutting their ad-supported economics more quickly than previously expected.

    The economic shift is beginning, we're still with the early adopters but critical mass is about to happen. This might not be such a bad thing. Those broadcasters that learn first will take these viewers with them, and create themselves a nice market out of it.

    Yet the article seems to see doom and gloom, saying quality will be sacrificed, as if the networks care about anything other than their bottom line anyway :

    The "spiral of death" could rapidly lead to a further deterioration not just in viewing and advertising support but also in the quality of programming. If broadcasters are taking in fewer revenues because they deliver fewer viewers, they will have less money to invest in programming.

    I have a less negative take on this. Hopefully advertisers and broadcasters alike will catch on to the fact that the people don't want to be blasted with adverts. Most of us, given the choice, won't watch them, look at them, or download them as part of web sites. The dot com crash had a lot to do with the realisation that ad supported sites would not flourish; few today make revenue purely from advertising - unless their content is astounding.

    So I'd suggest that TV will lose some channels, lose some obscure and niche programming, but just maybe quality will prevail. Because good art, good acting, and good screenwriting will always seek an audience. That audience is getting cleverer, more choosy, and has more tools at its disposal. It can't be that bad if we suddenly choose to really watch stuff we want, and even if we pay a premium for it, that's not so bad. A lot of people have mentioned buying TV stuff on DVD these days, and for me Internet + fixed media (TV on demand) is a much better delivery mechanism than streamed scheduled broadcasting. TV (as defined in the traditional model) will be, and indeed should be, much more centered around live events, sports, debates, etc. I predict that eventually all non-live scheduled content will become time shifted, on demand, and paid for. This model has every chance of success.

    Less content on less channels and more stuff paid on demand just shifts the econmics around. It doesn't mean that quality is lost. Most decent programmes these days rely on DVD sales and syndicated sales to other countries to make a profit. The big networks don't make money on them just on broadcast in the US. Arguably the best shows sell best - nobody buys crap on DVD in bulk all around the world, but most of us watch it on TV if we have no other choice.

  • by mike_lynn ( 463952 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:12AM (#7597354)
    Hasn't anyone else been noticing the number of in-show popup animations that push products and other shows during a program instead of during a commercial break? You're not going to see an increase in quality and content, you're going to see an increase in the blurring of advertising and entertainment.

    We started with advertisements that got your attention because they were funny and we're going to end with comedies that have more punchlines that end with " .. and so he went shopping at the GAP!" and " ... so I drank a Coke!"
    • From the article: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mangu ( 126918 )
      "It scares me a bit because some of the businesses are in a very awkward position. Especially the affiliate groups. After all, the only programming they own is their local news, and they are hard-pressed to do product placements.

      So, the affiliates must get a way to pop-up those animations for local advertisers. Lots of IP related issues here, can they pop-up an ad over the network's pop-up?

  • by TecraMan ( 12354 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:20AM (#7597383)
    WARNING: Eurocentric reply

    I'm not surprised that PVRs are so popular in the US, with the amount of ads there are on US channels. Maybe it is not such a problem when you get used to it, but to Europeans visiting the US, the intrusiveness of the ads is overwhelming.

    We're used to privately held channels which show a lot fewer ads, and still produce good programming. Take a look at Britain's ITV or Sky and the Dutch, German and Scandinavian channels to see fairly high-quality programming with at most 2 commercial breaks in a 30 minute programme, versus the four or more seen on some US channels.

    Leaving aside the state/taxpayer-funded channels such as the BBC (which has no ads), the European model shows that reduced advertising still brings in enough revenue for good programming, while being a lot less annoying for the viewer.
    • by Dionysus ( 12737 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:14AM (#7597584) Homepage
      After moving back to Norway, I find the US advertising model far preferable to the Norwegian one. In the US, the ads are only 30 sec. Even without Tivo, it's not that annoying. Ads in Norway is 5 min.,which reach the annoying state pretty fast.

      Plus we get most of our good programming outside the country (US, France, UK, Germany).
  • Wrapup (Score:3, Informative)

    by cwernli ( 18353 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:32AM (#7597423) Homepage
    For anybody interested in the subject (and for those who might have missed the article) I can only reccomend this article [] in a recent Wired edition. Looks like James Marsh read it too, and acted in consequence of it.
  • by xyote ( 598794 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @07:55AM (#7597507)
    Skipping commercials is nothing new. What's new is that suddenly the advertizers "noticed" that commercials weren't always being viewed. To fix this "problem" the following will have to occur during commercials: disabling fast forward/skip on DVRs, disabling the remote control, locking the doors on bathrooms and refrigerators, etc...

    What's actually changing is that advertizers are becoming aware of the impact of technology. Their initial reaction is negative but will become positive when they realize the control it will give them, particularly interactive TV. You will have to have viewed the commercial in order to supply the correct prompts to view the rest of the program. Welcome to the future. Welcome to hell.

  • I kept track for two years of the money I spent because of seeing something advertised on TV. In two years, the total was something like $6.82.

    I'm in favor of micropayments for shows. Five cents to watch an hour-long show would pay more than the present system.
  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:04AM (#7597542) Homepage
    Just keep the ad prices as they are. Sure, it will mean that the ads are more expensive per viewers' time, but that's not the networks' problem, and not advertisers' problem either -- all that cost is passed to the customer.

    Don't tell me that less effective ads will mean that companies will choose to buy less ads and use those money to improve their products -- it's beyond ridiculous.
  • popups? (Score:5, Funny)

    by matth ( 22742 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:27AM (#7597628) Homepage
    Guess it's time to start having popup ads on TV... I can see it now.... in the middle of a TV show, all of a sudden a chevy truck bursts through the screen.. totally obscuring what you are trying to watch and making this horrid crashing sound.. then it drives back and forth for a bit and finally comes to rest in the upper top corner for the remainder of the show.

    Hrmm.. I could swear I've seen this idea some place before!
  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:37AM (#7597681) Homepage
    The biggest problem I see with this trend is that if it does kill traditional advertising, it will likely also kill smaller productions: both TV and film. If companies start to think that buying ads isn't financially profitable, then they won't buy ads, and only the biggest ticket items will get made due to the financial viability and/or the profit margin.

    Of course, there will be indie works still, but less so, since many of them have private corporate sponsors as well.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:42AM (#7597708)
    "When I was a kid"(TM) in the early 1970s, there was much less advertising on television and watching television wasn't as obnoxious as it was. Even network-broadcast movies only had a 2-3 commercial breaks per hour, with long stretches of movie in between.

    There's a lot more advertising on TV, and a lot more obnoxious advertising gimmicks. I can't help but think that if TV advertising was the same way it was in the 1960s and early 1970s, the idea of paying for a DVR wouldn't be as appealing as the advertising wasn't as obnoxious, it was more of a fair bargain.

    But then there's some questions about content, too -- broadcast television used to make some weighty programming. Now it sucks, and if you want anything interesting, you need to have HBO or Showtime for drama, and Tivo and 400 other channels for anything else.
  • by rollingcalf ( 605357 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:50AM (#7597741)
    I wouldn't be surprised to see a new bill written, and perhaps passed into law, that forces TiVo and all DVR producers to remove the fast-forward capability from all boxes manufactured after 200x. Or at least to disable fast-forward during commercials (using a "commercial broadcast flag" that reliably indicates what part of a showing is a commercial and what isn't).
  • TV Will Adopt (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zentec ( 204030 ) < minus painter> on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:03AM (#7597807)
    This isn't as bad as it seems. First off, television has always been a license to print money and while the revenue growth slows, it's not going to be crimped off. There isn't going to be rampant adoption of Tivo in most households; if there were, it would have happened already.

    More importantly, the move to a 16:9 format will allow for even WORSE methods of advertising. We've all become accustomed to seeing 'bugs' in the lower quadrant of a screen, now they'll just have advertising on a panel somewhere on the screen.

  • by sllim ( 95682 ) <achance@eart h l i> on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:14AM (#7597878)
    Yeah I know the add problem is big and scary and easy to digest. But the real problem should scare the hell out of the networks.

    When you get a Tivo there is no reason to watch crappy TV.


    Seriously, why would I want to watch lowest common denominator TV when I always have something I enjoy at my finger tips?

    Seems to me that is the real issue, people that own a Tivo are much, much less likely to watch something 'cause nothing better is on'.

    Funny thing about Tivo and I, I watch a hell of a lot more HBO and pay TV then I used to.

  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:30AM (#7597957) Journal
    Anyone old enough (or curious enough) to remember The Shadow will probably remember that he wouldn't have put anything other than Lipton in his cup.

    Many sponsor's ads during the radio play ages were performed inline with the show, by the show's performers, but still in such a way that they were clearly advertisements. Sure, not everything could be advertised this way, but it would probably bring back some of the creativity and interest in advertising that seems to have sunk into the world of the one-time superbowl ad.

    Advertisers know that people all over tune in to the superbowl just for the ads, yet they don't seem to be spending that kind of effort on a large scale to make every day ads that interesting. Sure, there are exceptions (usually humorous ads), but not enough to keep me glued to the set during show breaks.
  • by Ranger ( 1783 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @12:05PM (#7599156) Homepage
    Couch Potato: TiVo, what is good in life?

    TiVo: To block commercials, delete them unseen, and hear the lamentation of their advertisers.

    Couch Potato & TiVo: bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha! bwa-ha-hA-HA-HA!! BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger