ABC Trying To Thwart DVR Use. The Effort has About As Much Chance of Success as a Chris Dodd Presidential Comeback.
Posted by: David Kiley on February 25, 2008
When we look back at 2008 and what the stupidest idea of the year is, I’m sure we’ll be examining a deal in which the ABC network and Cox Communications’ established an on-demand video service that will allow viewers to watch ABC shows like “Lost” at any time.
The wrinkle is that the service prevents viewers from fast-forwarding through commercials. The service, as reported in The New York Times, has been tested for several months in homes served by Cox in Orange County, Calif. The total number of commercials in the shows would be far less than the over-the-air broadcast version of the show.
ABC and Cox executives said that consumer response to the test had been positive. The move is an attempt to stem the use of DVRs like TiVo, which viewers often use to avoid commercials.
Here is the quote in the Times story from a Disney-ABC executive.
“This does counter the DVR,” said Anne Sweeney, the president of the Disney-ABC television group. “You don’t need TiVo if you have fast-forward-disabled video on demand. It gives you the same opportunity to catch up to your favorite shows.”
Memo to Ms. Sweeney. If you think not being able to ff through the ads is snot a key feature of time-shifting programs on a DVR then you should be treated for whatever illness if affecting your faculties.
Unless the networks are successful in somehow defeating DVRS, people will continue to time-shift their TV watching to not only watch the shows they like at their convenience, but also to avoid ads that waste their valuable time.
This is a dumb idea. Instead of creating a service that is akin to inventing an automobile that goes no faster than a stagecoach in an attempt to save the buggy-whip industry, perhaps ABC and Cox should be channeling resources into targeting viewers through their cable and systems with advertising that is relevant to them.
I hate to sound like a broken record, because I have blogged and written on this point before. But ads in general are not the enemy of the network ad-supported business model. Advertising that is irrelevant is the enemy of your business model.
I’m sitting at home watching, say, American Idol, a Fox show. Ads for Coke, Crest, Olds Spice, GE, Doritos and Mitsubishi come hurling at me during a break. Not one of these products is relevant to my consuming life. If I didn’t time-shift the show on my DVR so I could skip the ads, I would flip over to a baseball game of TCM movie where there are no commercials, read a magazione with the mute button on, or check my e-mail. Now, if you could enter into a deal with the cable companies in which I could opt-in for ads that ARE relevant to me, based on a monthly questionnaire I would fill out online, then I’d be inclined to watch commercials. In my case, that might be BMW, Dewalt power tools, Bahamas vacations, Celestial Seasons Tea.
As long as ABC and other broadcasters pursue a pointless, time-wasting ad model, and DVRs are legal, why on earth should I be wasting my time watching shampoo ads. By the way, I shaved my head a few months ago, so shampoo…not so relevant to me.
Make a note. If I want to watch Lost, I’ll record it and skip the ads on my DVR. This on-demand service Cox and ABC have cooked up seems aimed at people who don’t yet have a DVR, but are lining up to get one. ABC and Cox thinks this on-demand service will make people on the bubble think twice about shelling out for one.
To those people, I have three words—“Time is money.” I can watch a three hour football game in an hour or so, and a two hour American Idol in 50 minutes. A Lost episode can be watched in 40 minutes. Now, that is time that adds up.