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by adam mathes
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Tivo Week - Day Two and a Half

Clearly, I am still not quite back into the whole “update every day” schtick, even when I have a plan.

Today’s Tivo topic is advertising.

When you watch programs on Tivo, you can easily fast forward through the ads with satisfying “badoop, badoop badoop!” sounds. And although you can’t excise ads from the shows you save, you can basically never watch them again.

As television is still mostly an advertiser supported medium, this means everyone who buys a Tivo or similar PVR is no longer being reached by television advertising. If 10% of the population gets a Tivo, advertisers would likely demand a 10% decrease in advertising rates. I’m not sure what this really means for free, advertiser supported television if PVR technology gets serious penetration. (If cable and satellite boxes start to come with PVR’s standard, this could happen relatively quickly.)

What I hope would happen would be that television becomes more of a promotional media, like radio. Or how radio was, before payola. Or between payola schemes. Or how we theoretically envision radio as a medium to expose people to music, in the hopes they purchase it in some other format. As television shows being released on DVD become more widespread and popular, this could become feasible. The movie industry makes more on rentals and DVD sales than it does at the box office now. It’s been said that the popularity of buying (rather then renting) has changed the way movies are made and marketed.

The television industry shouldn’t underestimate people’s desire to “own” [1] their favorite media products. If ad revenues decrease, this could encourage the television industry to put more material out on DVD faster, since they could worry less about cannibalizing future advertising revenue. And I can’t deny there’s something particularly nice about having whole seasons of shows on DVD. It’s high quality, you can watch them whenever, you never have to worry when the next episode is being shown. I hope it’s a direction television moves in, and I think PVR’s may help drive it.

Of course, it would be nice if I could make my own full season DVD’s from Tivo recordings. Next on Tivo week - Television: Trapped.

  1. With the erosion of fair use, copy protections and user-hostile technological and legal barriers today, it’s pretty inaccurate to use the word “own,” but you get the idea.

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