ABC, the network that has been at war with DVR owners for the past several yearrs may be going nuclear. According to at least one report, they are in talks with cable & satellite companies to disable the fast-forward button on future DVRs. Somehow, I doubt this is one of the features that Kirk had in mind when he wrote about his ideal DVR.
Even better, they claim that consumers will be OK with this, that people don’t actually want to fast-forward through the commercials. That the only reason they use DVRs is for the time-shifting aspects. And that we’d all be willing to put up with commercials to continue to time-shift, so there would be no backlash whatsoever.
Holy Jesus Frack! Do these people even use DVRs? There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to begin.
Sigh, so let’s go with the backstory. How much ABC obviously hates the portion of its audience that uses DVRs. They’ve been screwing with us for a few years now. Or did you think that those 62 minute episodes of Lost and 1:04:34 episodes of Desperate Housewives were accidents? That they just had sooooo much content each week they couldn’t fit it all in a single hour? Nah, they just wanted everybody to choose not to watch any other show at 10:00.
I’m glad that I have a dual-tuner.
But asking DVR makers to disable the fast-forward button just ain’t right. After all, some of us have been fast-forwarding through commercials for over a quarter-century. And not because we necessarily hate commercials, but because we have realized that we can watch an hour show in 40-45 minutes.
The networks should be glad, because we can watch more shows this way!! And be exposed to more product placement.
Also, there are several other uses for the fast-forward button that have nothing to do with ad zapping.
- The last five minutes of the American Idol results show.
- Watching your team, and only your team, on Baseball Tonight.
- Getting to the “good parts” of certain shows on Cinemax.
As a matter of fact, my guess is that DVRs with disabled fast-forward buttons would totally destroy the soft-core Pay-Per-View industry. Somehow, I doubt that the other corporate behemoths that also own pieces of that industry would be too happy with that outcome.
ABC, here’s the thing: you don’t publish the consumer for trying to make her life easier and better. When will the networks let go of the mid-20th century dream of a family gathering around a TV and watching a single network all evening? It doesn’t work that way anymore — for some of us, it hasn’t been that way for two decades now, and we have no desire to go back.
Forcing people to watch commercials isn’t going to help ABC — or any network — maximize revenues from declining audiences. If anything, it will just accelerate that process. I’d rather just not watch TV at than be forced to watch it this way.
No backlash? Bollocks. If this happens, there will be a backlash, and it will start right here.
This may of course, just be a trial balloon. If so, it’s as crazy as those missiles that Kim Jong Il sent up last week. And would be just about as successful . . .