November 2, 2009

46% of people in the 18 to 49 age group do not skip the commercials when they watch network TV using a DVR.


It's believed that people are just passive. Or they just forget. That makes me sad and happy. Sad, because I don't want people to be dumb. Happy, because the commercials support the shows that I like to watch too, and I'm skipping the commercials. If everyone did that, what would happen?

(Actually, I will occasionally stop and watch a commercial that — in the speed-by — looks very interesting graphically like that current commercial for whatever-the-hell that has floating jellyfish balloons and the like.)


Pogo said...

One can't assume they are watching.

Might just be using the commercial for the same purposes as in the past: to attend to other issues. Yes, even if you can pause and fast forward etc.

AllenS said...

I love the e*trade commercials featuring the young child.

Tibore said...

I've done that before eg forget to fast forward. Back in the days of timeshifting VCR recordings, I'd get them going and then forget that it's a tape playing. Once I remembered, I'd fast forward, but years of conditioning has gotten me used to thinking "Oh, I can get up and go to the fridge/bathroom/whatever now".

That's what annoys me about Hulu and FanCast: You're stuck with the commercials. And with FanCast, they do that stupid, stupid raise-the-volume-for-the-commercials tactic. Dumb. I'm ready to complain to my cable provider about it. But anyway, I think the answer to why this happens is nothing more than the fact that it's ingrained habit.

Scott said...

Of those 46%, how many are virgins?

traditionalguy said...

When alone with the TV all commercials are muted if not channel changed; but when the wife watches she enjoys the commercials. So I get to watch them too, and many turn out to be very funny and creative. She does let me skip the 10 minute pledge drive commercials on PBS.

ironrailsironweights said...

Speaking of TV commercials ... I was at the gym the other day watching the TV monitor on the treadmill with no sound. A commercial came on, one I hadn't seen before, and it featured an actor with mostly gray hair, perhaps in his early to middle fifties. I immediately knew that the ad was either for a limp-d*ck drug or Flomax. No other product or service would ever use a graying actor.

It was for Viagra.


Richard Dolan said...

Alas, the commmercials are often the most inventive stuff on TV. Rather than assuming they're lazy idiots, it may just be an exercise in consumers voting with their eyes.

former law student said...

all commercials are muted

When I mute the commercials I find I must keep looking at the screen to determine when the show is about to come on. Not muting is actually less of a pain for me than muting.

Pogo's right -- if I'm watching a show on PBS I miss the breaks that commercials provide.

Joseph said...

I haven't had cable in years. The only time I watch live TV is when I'm visiting my family or friends. Maybe its because of they're always new to me when I do watch commercials but I actually kind of enjoy them. I think the quality (and strategy) of them has improved over the years. They tend to be funnier and more relevant. That said, I'm pretty sure I would fastforward if TV watching were to become a daily habit.

Angst said...

I admit it, I too enjoy watching the commercials - but with the following caveat.

I do not own a TV. (But I do watch DVD's on my computer monitor.)

I do enjoy watching live sports (BOOOO EVIL Yankees!) so I go to sports bars (IMHO the best place to watch sports) and I find the commercials very creative. Keep in mind that I only see a particular commercial just a few times.

Regarding virginity - The beautiful Ms. Angst was late to work this morning. Again.

Florida said...


If you own a DVR, you'll quickly understand. There are several reasons:

1) Sometimes, I'm only listening and not sitting in front of the DVR with the remote in my hand (while cooking, for example).

2) Sometimes, I'm using the commercial break to do other things, like check email, or bathroom break. At those times, I might let the DVR play the commercial, but I'm definitely not seeing it or caring about it.

3) Many times, it's only the kids watching, and they don't get to hold the remote, so they can't fast forward. But as soon as the commercials hit, they're out of the room getting something to drink or otherwise seeking attention. Again, they're not watching the commercial.

Only very little of the advertising spent on television reaches me however. Only those ads that I want to see, really.

Still - advertisers shouldn't fear DVRs. Any chance for them to get their ad in front of a viewer should be considered good for them. And the real benefit of a DVR is time-shifting ... allowing me to watch shows I might otherwise miss.

On the web, it's much worse. I have total control over what I see. Almost no web advertising hits my eyeballs.

I quit buying newspapers years ago because they're out to end my constitutional rights, so fuck them right up the ass.

I deliberately allow some advertising to reach me: for example, blogs that support free speech rights and other constitutional rights. I even click their ads so the writer gets paid.

All the lefty blogs gets fucked hard. Their ads don't even display in my browser, so if you're an advertiser spending your money on lefty websites, it's completely wasted. I don't even see your ad.

We're routing around you.

Bissage said...

(1) Far too many television commercials are obnoxious. They are too loud. They strobe and flash. They swoosh. Words race across the screen because they know you've already hit the mute.

Commercials are full of meaningless sensory crap designed to arrest our attention like some smelly old uncle, with hair sticking out of his ears, jingling his car keys over a baby's crib croaking out "Gootchy Gootchy Goooo!"

Commercials are strictly forbidden at the House of Bissage. They are to be terminated with extreme prejudice. Overestimating their length and losing some content as a result is an acceptable price to pay. We will not be cowed. Stick it to the man! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!

(2) I clicked on the NYT link but it wanted to force me to watch a commercial so I backed out. We have our principles, after all.

(3) An old New Yorker cartoon. A little girl is watching television with her father.

“Daddy, why can’t they save all the commercials until the end and we’d be honor bound to watch them?”

Badger said...

I remember years ago a lady wrote to Ann Landers to settle a dispute. The lady felt that if she watched a TV show that she was then morally obligated to watch the commercials. Ann set her straight.

ricpic said...

The mute button is my savior.

Christy said...

Don't many of us multi-task while watching? If I'm shredding paper, which bores me, I'll probably fast forward, if I'm cooking, probably not.

MadisonMan said...

I'm with Joseph -- never watch TV, so when I do, the ads are all new and interesting. I try to discern the psychology of the pitch. My kids hate it when I start talking about the ads that way.

It takes about 2 hours before ad saturation sets in and they become an annoyance and a bore.

tim maguire said...

It's a given in advertising that what matters is whether the commercial is remembered, not whether it is liked.

Making it easy to skip the commercials may reduce somewhat the money spent on advertising, but given the importance of advertising to product sales, the primary effect will be to force Madison Avenue to make better commercials.

It will also encourage product placement--making commercials less obvious, which is not so bad and definitely better than what we have today.

Overall, I think this is a positive trend.

Badger said...

Why? Why kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Maybe people are lying to the survey-takers:

Sure, I’ll take a brief survey.

Commercials? Oh yes, I watch them all.

Henry said...

If you skip the commercials, when do you go pee?

John Lynch said...

When you hit pause.

PC said...

I don't think there are many DVRs with a commercial-skip feature. Thus, in order to skip commercials, you actually have to work the remote, which becomes almost as much of a PITA than watching commercials.

The lack of an auto-skip feature on commercial DVRs is one of the reasons I installed MythTV on a computer. It performs a routine that does a remarkably good job of detecting commercials. When a commercial break begins, a single button press skips all the commercials. Easy-peasy.

Original Mike said...

I watch TV with only half my brain, so I sometimes loss track of whether it's live or recorded. It works both ways: i) I suddenly realize I've been watching recorded commercials (I hate that feeling), ii) I push the skip commercial button repeatedly before realizing the program is live.

Henry said...

I guess you can tell I don't watch TV much. Our little used set still depends on the aerial.

You know, I don't think it's commercials that make people dumb.

Since, like MadisonMan and Joseph I don't watch shows or commercials, I guess I'm Althouse's worst case scenario.

Three or four times a year I might watch a sports event. A few innings of the World Series. An NFL playoff game. Always the Kentucky Derby. That is the main reason we own a TV -- to watch 5 minutes of television a year with a glass of bourbon in hand.

The commercials for those events always seem exactly the same.

Kev said...

(the other kev)

I watched about eight hours of football yesterday, and the only commercial I stopped to watch more than once was the one for Reebok Easytone shoes. For some reason.

Alex said...

Anyone who watches commercials is a fucking loser.

bwebster said...

I'll occasionally watch commercials on a DVR if I happen to forget I'm watching a recorded program (vs. live broadcast). And occasionally while hitting the 'CM SKIP' button on our DVR remote I'll see a commercial that I'll stop and watch (movie trailer or a commercial that looks funny). But that's about it. ..bruce..

Leland said...

I think Pogo or Christy nailed the primary reasons.

I'm sure it is true that advertising is about remembering the commercial, but for me, that doesn't translate into purchases at all. Don't use Geico, Progressive, or E-Trade.

I find the Miller High Life commercials offensive, and last Superbowl, they based their one ad on the concept that people would remember the character and thus the brand. Seriously, who wants to buy beer from a company whose spokeman takes beer from the people purchasing it and gives it to others that didn't buy it?

careen said...

They have gone downstairs to make popcorn. Pausing for too can degrade your LCD.

Beth said...

I watch commercials that grab my interest; commercial breaks are also good for a little conversation. If I'm on a tight schedule, I skip the ads and a couple of hours of shows turns into an hour and a half. That's good for getting things done. But sometimes I just want the damn thing on and I don't want to pay the attention required to notice and skip the ads.

Joe said...

I often delay watching TV at night so we can skip the commercials. The best is when an older show we want to watch again comes on during the day. I record it and then watch it in the evening, overlapping prime time.

Sometimes we do forget that we're watching a delayed show and other times, I don't skip so I can take a break.

But this result is fine with me; it keeps the ad agencies from freaking out.

(Hulu doesn't bother me since the commercials are short and there are generally only three for an hour show.)

Chris said...

Why not just kill the middleman altogether and torrent the shows you like?

Chris said...

wv: refunkwo = hiphop in the 22nd century.

That is all.

Florida said...

"Why not just kill the middleman altogether and torrent the shows you like?"

Too much virii.

It's easier and safer to stream from the originating network.

The moment they want to charge for it, however ... it's sayanara losers.

blake said...

Like PC, I use MythTV.

And I have auto-skip commercials on by default. I'm barely aware of commercials most of the time.

AllenS said...

Anyone who doesn't enjoy watching the 30 minute infomercial starring Christie Brinkley selling the workout contraption, is a commie faggot.

Original Mike said...

Anyone who doesn't enjoy watching the 30 minute infomercial starring Christie Brinkley selling the workout contraption, is a commie faggot.

I can't last 30 minutes.

T J Sawyer said...

I have to believe those 46% just haven't been shown the "30-second skip button."

When we say a show is a 4 or a 5 or a 6, we're not rating the content, just the number of times we have to punch the skip during each break.

And my biggest problem since getting DVRs is that when I miss something in the real world, I start to reach for the control to "go back 7 seconds!"

The Crack Emcee said...

I pay attention to 'em for the music:

You can hear lots of the best up-and-coming bands in commercials - long before they break nationally or internationally.

Sometimes it's the only way a band from overseas can be heard here, or vice-versa (The Dandy Warhols come to mind). So, if you want to stay "on top of it", or have a reason to pay attention to the licensing of music, then commercials are the place to be.