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No more skipping ads? Networks will look to video-on-demand to replace DVRs

With penetration at almost 40%, the digital video recorder is starting to change the way people watch television and, more important, don't watch advertising.

POLTRACK For the television industry, TiVos and DVRs are a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the devices allow viewers to catch shows they might have otherwise missed. On the other hand, often when viewers use the machines to watch shows, they skip over commercials, much to the chagrin of the advertisers, which pay big bucks for those spots, and the networks, which need the money to make shows.

The networks are wary of this and ultimately are looking to video-on-demand to replace the DVR. In other words, picture a day when instead of recording that episode of "Two and a Half Men" on your DVR, you order it on video-on-demand. The only difference would be that on VOD the ads would be there and you wouldn't be able to skip them.

"I call DVRs a transitional technology," said David Poltrack, the chief research officer of CBS. In an interview, Poltrack said the DVR will be supplanted by streaming and VOD that will "give the consumer the ability to watch shows any way they want to and to do so in a way that is much more advertiser-friendly."

Will the consumer feel that way? Poltrack notes that as VOD becomes more widespread, it could allow cable subscribers to drop their DVRs and knock $10 bucks or so a month off their cable bills. He said CBS has done research that showed 90% of the several thousand people the network surveyed would accept watching commercials in return for not shelling out money for a DVR. Of course, some people might be willing to shell out the $10 a month to not watch commercials.

What about the cable and satellite companies that make money off of DVR subscribers? It would seem natural for them to be resistant to this. Poltrack said the bigger VOD becomes, the easier it will be for distributors to sell high-end digital cable packages as well as possibly sell advertising in or around video-on-demand offerings.

Those who would prefer to keep their DVRs won't escape ads either. Sooner or later the distributors will just make it impossible to skip commercials on shows recorded with DVRs.

Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: David Poltrack. Credit: CBS

Comments () | Archives (47)

Don't consumers have any say in the matter? We don't want VOD. We want DVRs.

What wishful thinking by commercial TV. Cable viewers will not record programs where they can't edit the commercials. They pay for the DVR, and I don't see them paying a fee and getting the same old programs with commercials. CBS,FOX,ABC & NBC better start thinking about going cable without commercials, and charging the cable carriers a higher fee to do so. That makes more sense. They are fighting a tsunami of evolution in TV watching. HBO, Showtime etc. will eventually overtake the commercial TV world,not vice versa.

I have my TiVos.

I don't have Video On Demand, nor do I want it.

It has already begun....I just noticed that when I went to the On Demand channel to watch a couple of NBC and CBS shows that I missed last week, there was a large printed notice (White type on black screen) that flashed right before the program was shown. The notice read: THIS PROGRAM DOES NOT ALLOW FAST FORWARD. Good grief....greedy networks.

It's worth the $10 or even $20 a month to be able to skip the inane commercials on my DVR. The broadcasters, in trying to jam advertising down our throats, will lose even more viewers than they have already. They just don't get it. At least we will still have HBO.

If we didn't get bombarded with advertising everywhere we turn we probably wouldn't mind commercials as much. I'll stick with DVR and the option to skip the ads, thank you.

You can't unring a bell, I will not go back to watching commercials.

There is a simple solution if the VOD is going to be streamed via cable. Just record the stream. A bit inconvenient, but oh so worth it. Or, just subscribe to Netflix and wait for the DVD.

I disagree with the comment by Harry Schwartz. The major networks will not be able to go to a subscription model unless they improve their programming dramatically. Who would pay to watch the drivel they feed us? I won't even pay for HBO with its great programming. Why should I if I subscribe to Netflix? I just wait for the DVD.

Right now all the majors accept ABC oppose the death of the cable spigot, but they are being short-sighted. The only way they can continue to exist in the long term is to make their content available on the internet for rent or sale. This is Steve Jobs vision, and he is oh so right. Personally, I can't wait.

It's because these greedy monolithic companies want to turn the clock back and make more money than they deserve that I disconnected my TV last December and haven't looked back since. Everything I want to see is available free online with a bit of digging (although the greedy corps have their fingers slowly trying to strangle the internet now too), so why should I pay for a whole bunch of garbage I don't want to watch. In some instances, I can't even pay for the service I want despite trying (Mad Men is available on Amazon, but I have to wait 24 hours before I can give them my money; are they stupid?!?). Besides, most TV shows are just filler for the ads, because that's what TV's really for, after all. Technology just races ahead, and these old guys just don't get it. Look at Blockbuster for a recent example. Creativity pays. Staying the course doesn't.

"Sooner or later the distributors will just make it impossible to skip commercials on shows recorded with DVRs."

How do you suppose they will do this? Take away the remote control to my TiVo DVR? I have been living in the watch-TV-without-ads, there is no way I am going back to watching ads.

The torture of VOD ads is that it's the same one or two ads played over and over at every commercial break. The repetitiveness is enough to drive me over the edge.

Never, i'll never give up my dvr. There are way too many adds as it is. Tv, radio, youtube, any thing you try to watch on-line has a goddamn add in it. Money grubbing bastards...

Yowsah! I actually can't watch commercials anymore. This would be quite a problem!

Give the people what they actually want at the expense of the big money men??? Never!!! VOD must rescue us from convenience and seamless entertainment experience that we get from DVRs

If I have to watch ads, then I'll be watching a lot less TV. There's no going back.

Technology will always be a step ahead of these clowns. If VOD becomes the only option, then someone will create yet another black box that will allow you to record the VOD program as it's received and then to watch it later, skipping the commercials.

I actually loathe those floating ads that appear on the “bottom” of the screen more than the broadcast commercials. I can escape the broadcast commercials, as others have mentioned, by getting up and doing other things or hitting the mute button. I can not escape those floating overlays when they are obscuring the program I’m attempting to enjoy despite their annoying presence.

But those ads at the “bottom” of the screen sometimes seems to be the entire bottom THIRD of the damned screen, sometimes covering what I am trying to watch. It’s crazy.

The networks shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways and the FCC should make them pick one or the other. If you want to make me watch commercials then at least let me WATCH the program of my choice without the onscreen distractions!

With this information, I conclude that VOD is an inferior product than DVR, so I'm not interested, and anything that smells like VOD I'm not going to touch it.

I'm so used to CONTROL what I'm watching that I can't watch anymore a regular broadcast, I get restless.

I wish VOD never replaces DVR's. Skipping ads is one of the best features in a DVR. Too bad those commercial TV companies care more about fattening their wallet than about consumer satisfaction / wasting consumer time by forcing commercials.

Do the networks see any of that $10 that goes to the cable company for the DVR? (Oh, and how much do they charge for the remote?) Realistically, the TV programming doesn't pay for itself, so it's got to come from our pockets or the advertisers. Personally, I got rid of my cable and switched to watching on the internet, which is where this is really heading. VOD also means Apple TV, Netflix, or Internet-based TV, which is fine with me. Pay your money to the networks so they make good programs, not to the middle-man cable companies.

I don't mind watching commercials if they'll put the programming in easy-to-watch venues like Hulu, but if they won't put the content on Hulu then I'll find it for free elsewhere online where it's edited without the commercials.

What you can do is get a desktop computer, put a TV card in it (Hauppauge or equivalent) and use either Windows Media Center or SnapStream Beyond TV and viola!, you won't be needing either VOD or a DVR (or TiVo) because you have created a DVR yourself. A still win-win for consumers and you still save $10 a month. :)

Why DO people skip Ads?

I believe a lot of people skip Ads because many of them are presented in an agressive manner that is often obnoxious or even offending? Shouting about your product 8 or more times an hour will NOT persuade me to purchase your product, as a matter of fact it will probably be a cold day in a certain infernal region before I even THINK of purchasing your product. Do you read this Insurance Companies, Finance Companies, Car Dealers and the like?

There are some people who have a reason to skip Commercials, they don't want their Children to see certain Ads. The Medical Companies are the biggest offenders here. They run Commercials for products dealing with certain "Bodily Functions", including sex, morning, noon and night. During some weekend Sports Events one cannot go 15 minutes without seeing one of these ads. Doesn't anybody realise CHILDREN ARE WATCHING? Since THERE IS ABSOLUTLY NO INDICATION these kinds of Ads are about to come on, Parents must CRINGE whenever a Program their Children are watching goes to a Commercial Break. Consequently, I know of Parents who FORBID their Children from watching any kind of Program, including Sports, until the Program is first recorded and the Commercials edited. Do you want people to watch commercial? Fiest make them less obnoxious and offensive, and don't show ads for "Adult Products" at times when Children are bound to be watching. You know the saying you can attract more Flies with Honey than you can with Vinegar? There's been way too much Vinegar lately.

Easy peasy.

Hook your video and audio out to your DVR instead of straight to your TV. It works perfectly with Tivo.

Pause, FF, away.

LOL. What a delightful bale of doublespeak: "VOD .. will give the consumer the "ability" to watch shows "any way they want to" and to do so "in a way that is much more advertiser-friendly". Quotations mine for emphasis on key points of obfuscation.

ability = forced upon
any way they want to = they will have no choice
advertiser friendly = forced ads

Psst! Here's a hint: it has to be easier than bittorrent!

The networks are much less relevant than they were 10/20/30 years ago.

If they push forward with this technology they may well render themselves irrelevant.

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