ABC President of Advertising Sales Mike Shaw isn’t happy that DVR owners are able to fast forward past commercials and he’s been holding talks with various manufacturers about them including a feature in the future that would disable the fast forward function:
“I would love it if the MSOs, during the deployment of the new DVRs they’re putting out there, would disable the fast-forward [button],” Shaw said.
While MSOs risk losing some of their DVR customers if fast-forwarding were blocked, Shaw said the cable operators—who are beefing up their own local ad sales operations—“are in the same business we’re in.” “They’ve got to sell ads too,” he said. “So if everybody’s skipping everybody’s ads, that’s not a long-term business model for them either.”
That’s not surprising considering his job, but his explanation as to why he thinks there won’t be a backlash from DVR owners is enough to make one wonder what he’s smoking.
Shaw also threw cold water on the idea that neutering the fast-forward option would result in a consumer backlash. He suggested that consumers prefer DVRs for their ability to facilitate on-demand viewing and not ad-zapping—and consumers might warm to the idea that anytime viewing brings with it a tradeoff in the form of unavoidable commercial viewing.
“I’m not so sure that the whole issue really is one of commercial avoidance,” Shaw said. “It really is a matter of convenience—so you don’t miss your favorite show. And quite frankly, we’re just training a new generation of viewers to skip commercials because they can. I’m not sure that the driving reason to get a DVR in the first place is just to skip commercials. I don’t fundamentally believe that. People can understand in order to have convenience and on-demand (options), that you can’t skip commercials.”
Perhaps Mr. Shaw would do well to consider some of the polling on why people buy DVRs that’s been done. Terry Heaton points out one such poll that shows skipping commercials is the second most popular benefit of owning a DVR by 62% of respondents. Additionally “watch their program faster by eliminating commericals” was the fourth benefit cited by 55% of respondents. Terry further comments with:
What Mr. Shaw doesn’t want to accept is that time is the new currency and that his industry has done this to themselves. One-third of prime-time viewing is now devoted to marketing, and this revolt against that is driven by a very real need for people to manage a decreasing amount of leisure time.
The 30-second ad model is broken, folks, and we need creative thinking to find ways to overcome it—not crap like this from network executives. The horse has left the barn, and it ain’t comin’ back. Why can’t we bring ourselves to accept that?
My wife wasn’t real thrilled when I signed up for Wide Open West’s DVR offering back when we were still living in Canton, but she grew to appreciate it a bit more once she got used to being able to skip commercials with it. She’ll still occasionally mentions to me that she wishes she could skip commercials on the Charter service her parents have, usually right after a string of ads she finds highly annoying.
Link found via AdJab.