Is “American Idol” blocking Fast Forward on some DVRs?

The folks over at The Lost Remote are reporting that one of their readers had a little trouble with an episode of American Idol he had recorded:

One of our loyal readers, Michael says he couldn’t get his fast-forward button to work while his Comcast HD-DVR played back American Idol—but it did work on other TV shows. He sent a screen grab to prove it. “Notice how the bottom bar has a ‘no’ sign. Usually that would switch to arrows when you’re fast forwarding,” he writes. Anyone else have this happen?

There have been similar reports from folks who record 24, another FOX program, but details are sketchy as it appears to be limited to users of Comcast’s HD-DVR boxes. The possibility of blocking the fast forward button on DVRs is something the networks have been demanding from all PVR makers as they equate skipping the commercials to stealing the program and the cable companies are in a position to cave in on the issue for fear of the network yanking rights to carry their channel. Considering that one of the reasons a lot of people make use of PVRs is so they can skip the commercials the loss of that ability could be a setback to adoption of the technology if it becomes widespread. Of course, that could be a selling point for TiVO or ReplayTV if they can resist the pressue to modify their boxes to do the same.

9 thoughts on “Is “American Idol” blocking Fast Forward on some DVRs?

  1. I was fixin to get one of these puppies a couple of months ago when I heard about this possibility. I will not be buying a DVR now. Not sure why I was going to buy one in the first place – nothing but crap on the tube nowadays anyway! mad

  2. I know that the software is out there and just an apt-get away. The business opportunity, if any, is in peddling preconfigured boxes and support. I’ll build my own if Replay pulls a stunt like the above.

  3. HAve to admit I’m on the fence with this one. As much as I hate commercials, I can understand Fox’s position. The revenue generated from commercials figures into a network’s decision about keeping a show on the air or keeping it produced at the needed budget. If advertisers stop paying the asked for rate because fewer and fewer people are actually seeing the show then networks will be forced to either (1) cut the budget or, if the show isn’t popular enough (2) cut the show. Neither alternative is appealing to a fan of the show.

  4. There’s only a handful of shows I bother to watch and if I didn’t have the DVR cable box from Wide Open West then I probably wouldn’t see them too often. At least not until WOW starts offering video-on-demand.

  5. On the other side, I know that there are plenty of commercials out there that are more worthy of my eyes than the shows they are supporting. So, as someone that is in the advertising industry (print), I see the possibility that more and more companies will be forced to let the creatives at their ad agency of choice produce commercials that people want to see instead of skip over.

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