DVR Viewers Don't Skip The Commercials -

DVR Viewers Don’t Skip The Commercials


There’s often a tendency to think that “everyone” uses a particular technology, or uses it in a particular way, when in fact many people don’t. And so it is with DVRs. In most reports, DVRs have been discussed as if they’re completely antithetical to the TV networks’ advertiser-based model; it was assumed that anyone who uses a DVR must be skipping through the commercials. But as Bill Carter reports in the New York Times, networks are starting to wake up to the fact that many DVR users don’t fast-forward the commercials. Some do, but some don’t. Some “forget” to skip the commercials, some might enjoy the commercials, and some may just want to use the commercial break for traditional purposes, like going to the bathroom or getting something to eat or drink. And there’s also the point that an act break kind of needs to have a minute or so of space before the next act; a viewer might not want to dive into the next act right away. It’s why watching shows on DVD can be an unnatural experience.

Meaning that shows with big DVR gains are, in many cases, gaining viewers for the commercials as well. And that a “DVR-proof” show like Jay Leno’s is not actually a good thing, because if people did feel compelled to record his show, the advertisers might get some extra viewers.

Not that everybody watches the commercials, of course. But the place of the DVR is similar to that of the VCR in the ’80s. In fact, it’s basically the same thing. When your VCR breaks down, you replace it with a computerized version. (I’m surprised so few comedians do hacky jokes about how difficult it is to program your DVR. The problems of recording a whole show on a DVR are almost exactly the same as with the VCR, even down to the problem that you often get the first or last minute cut off.) The networks also worried that the VCR would destroy them; these companies even went to court over it. But ultimately they learned to co-exist with the  format.

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DVR Viewers Don’t Skip The Commercials

  1. I usually try to fast forward, but if the commercial is a common one, the product being mentioned certainly registers in my brain as the cm whizzes by.

  2. Besides, skipping commercials would ruin a great Futurama joke:

    Leela: I don't know! I don't know! It's not an easy decision. If only I had two or three minutes to think about it.

  3. And that a “DVR-proof” show like Jay Leno’s is not actually a good thing, because if people did feel compelled to record his show, the advertisers might get some extra viewers.

    I’ve got to admit that I’ve never understood or heard a plausible explanation for how a “DVR-proof” show could possibly be a good thing anyway. Can you explain this psychology, Jaime? Is it just that networks hate DVRs so much that they’ll sacrifice viewers for the sake of some abstract kind of logic-defying vengeance?

    • The idea was that DVR viewing doesn't count because "everyone" was skipping the commercials. So a DVR-proof show would be a good thing because anyone who wanted to watch it would watch it as it was broadcast.

  4. I fast forward through commercials but my missus likes to watch every ad at least once.

  5. I fast forward through commercials, though it is funny how often I forget that I'm watching the recorded show and get two or three commercials in before thinking "wait a sec… why the Hell am I watching the commercials!?!?!"

  6. I'm one of the "often forget to fast forward through commercials" people but it's not because I'm watching the commercials, it's because I'm doing other things while watching TV so I'm either barely watching the show or using the commercial breaks to leave the room.