I’ve been using a homemade DVR system for about 5 years. BeyondTV has been our choice mostly because of its fantastic file management system, and their “SmartSkip” technology. SmartSkip does an amazing job of highlighting the commercial breaks in the television shows you record, and the remote control lets you skip the offending segment with the push of a button. This means that I have effectively eliminated advertising from my television viewing since 2004.
Additionally, I don’t read magazines, or the newspaper. I listen to NPR or MP3s while driving. I use Adblock Plus while on websites. When I realized how little advertising I was taking in, I started intentionally not looking at billboards on the highway. Now I hardly even notice they are there.
A few weeks ago we canceled Comcast as our cable provider. We now only get our television shows from the internet. We’ve been using a program called TED, or Torrent Episode Downloader, which actively searches for and retrieves new shows that we want to watch. Takes a lot of the work out of illegal TV program downloading. It’s has been amazing with some things, and not so much with others. For instance, The Biggest Loser downloaded almost immediately, but Hell’s Kitchen never seems to. (Please don’t mock my program choices. I am aware of how shallow, vacuous, and ridiculous they are.) This is because someone needs to make and upload the original torrent file of the show in question. Things like Hell’s Kitchen aren’t a high enough priority, so sometimes it takes several days before it’s uploaded to a torrent site and available for TED to download for me, and I am impatient. I don’t like to wait.
Which brings me to my point. I have started seeing advertisements again, and I know exactly how and why. Hulu. When an episode of something is not available for illegal download, I go to Hulu to watch it. Or, as in the case of Project Runway, I will go directly to the network’s site to watch the full episode. Some networks, like The CW, will only allow you to view their full episodes if you download their player. I do not like that, and will never do it. Fuck that. There are plenty of formats they can use that would allow me to view video on their site, and it’s their loss for choosing to go the pain in the ass way. However, when I am allowed to watch the video, I do. And when I do, I watch the commercials.
You know why I watch the commercials? Because they format them correctly. If they were to use the standard television format, they would jam in 8 commercials, and I would have 4 minutes to walk away from my screen, go pee, grab a drink, talk to my husband about the plot holes, or that ugly bitch’s face, open a new tab, hit that stumble button, get distracted in any way at all. They are smart, however, and they show me 1 commercial. Just 1. There is a timer in the corner that tells me just how much longer I have to wait for my show to resume. And it’s not very long! Certainly not long enough for a distraction. So I watch. I just sit there and watch the damn commercial.
After all these years, I’m finally seeing advertisements again. I have seen the horrible McCafe commercial at least a dozen times. It sure isn’t making me want to drink their shit-in-a-cup that they call a latte (2 Girls 1 McCafe?), but it is making me mentally add an “ay” sound to the end of every word I think. I saw that stupid Dokken vs. chicken commercial that I think was for Norton Antivirus. And I’ve seen a host of others. I could say that they’re not working on me, because I am not buying the products mentioned. However I could also say that they are working amazingly well, because I am writing about them now, furthering their cause, making you, the reader, maybe decide to go out and buy a Dokken album. I mean, anti-virus software.
I suppose the point of this is to say the following things:
1. If you are a network, and you are not showing full episodes online, you deserve to fail the way you will.
2. Networks should also think about reformatting their commercial breaks.
3. If Hulu and other online television websites start to add more commercials, it would not be a good strategy.
4. McCafe still fucking sucks.