Hey Networks, Quit Cutting Off the…

Would you like to hear the end of that sentence above? Well, too bad. We’ve programmed it to overrun the allotted space so that the end would get cut off. Why would we do that? No reason, really. We knew that it wouldn’t fit and you wouldn’t be able to see the end, but we just don’t care. We’re spiteful like that sometimes. What, you think that’s ridiculous? Don’t just complain to us. Complain to the broadcast networks that do this crap to DVR viewers All. The. Damn. Time.

I watch a lot of TV. A lot. Even if you’ve read my TV recaps here in the blog, that doesn’t account for all the other shows I watch but don’t have time to write about. Like most people who watch a lot of TV, I have to DVR most of it to watch later. Even when I fully intend to watch a show on the same night it airs, I still need to record it because I have a bunch of series competing against each other in the same time slots. With that in mind, it really pisses me off when I record a show only to consistently find that the last few seconds get cut off when the network programs it to overrun the scheduled time slot.

The NBC Thursday night comedy block does this every single week. You know how ‘Community’ always has a little gag (usually with Troy and Abed) during the end credits? Just as it gets to the punchline… BAM!… Cut off. Even though I also record ’30 Rock’ immediately afterwards, there’s always a gap of 10 seconds or so between the end of one show and the beginning of the next – just enough for that punchline to get lost. Then the same thing happens again at the end of ’30 Rock’, and again at the end of ‘The Office’.

Lately, Fox has been doing this too with its Tuesday night lineup from ‘Glee’ to ‘Raising Hope’ (a really funny show that you should give a shot if you haven’t already) to ‘Running Wilde’ (a very disappointing show that doesn’t live up to all the talent behind it). This week, ‘Glee’ ran short while ‘Raising Hope’ after it ran long. So ‘Hope’ actually stretched across three different recording time slots. The beginning was tacked onto the end of ‘Glee’, the bulk of the episode was in its proper slot, and then the end ran over into the time for ‘Running Wilde’. How absurd!

This isn’t an accident. The networks know full well that they’re doing it. Why would they mis-time the programming of their shows on purpose? It’s an asinine ploy to annoy DVR viewers into watching the shows live without recording. They believe that if the end of one show runs over into the next time slot, you’re less likely to change the channel (since you’ve just missed the beginning of some other show) and will just stay on their network for the rest of the evening. The theory is of course complete nonsense. People will watch what they want to watch, especially in the DVR age.

Now, you’re probably asking why I don’t just set my DVR to tack an extra minute onto the end of each recording. Wouldn’t that solve this problem? No, because that only works if I’m only recording the one network. Like most people, I have a two-tuner DVR. It can record two shows at once, but no more.

So, let’s look at Thursday night. I record all of the comedies on NBC and ‘Fringe’ on Fox. If I set the NBC shows to run an extra minute each, then from 9:30 to 9:31 I will be trying to record three shows at the same time: the end of ‘The Office’, the beginning of ‘Outsourced’, and ‘Fringe’. This causes a conflict and my DVR will cancel one of the three recordings. It’s a no-win situation.

What’s the easiest solution for this one? Well, I can let the recording for ‘The Office’ run the extra minute and just stop watching ‘Outsourced’ entirely. It isn’t that funny anyway. Then I’ll only have two recordings during that hour.

Did you hear that, NBC? You’re effectively driving me away from watching one of your new shows. Great job! If it weren’t for this problem, I’d be inclined to give ‘Outsourced’ more time to see if it improves. But now… screw it. I don’t need the aggravation.

I beg all networks to stop playing these games. Program your shows to play during their scheduled time slots where they belong. As it is, you’re only driving away viewers and hurting yourselves. That means lower ratings and less of that precious ad revenue that keeps you on the air. This is no way to run a successful bu…


  1. JoeRo

    Josh who is your sat/cable provider and which revision of current hardware do you have? I record the same programs on Thursdays, at least the ones relevant to this problem; I record 30 Rock, The Office, and Fringe which would still create that one minute of overlap between all three programs.

    I schedule everything to start and stop on time and I’ve never missed the very last gag on an episode of 30 Rock. Never. For the record I’m watching Chicago based affiliates and my satellite provider is DirecTV; I’m currently using the HR22 receiver, and while that stb has its fair share of problems this “missing time” problem is not one of them. I’m wondering if this is a problem affecting specific broadcast areas only or if it’s hardware related. My local network affiliates also employ the little time overlap trick, but again it’s never caused me to miss anything.

  2. Paul Schram

    I’m in Canada using Bell Expressvu satellite. I also notice the exact same thing. My U.S. stations come from Boston. Almost every show, I miss some of the last few gags, or I see about 8 seconds of the previews to the next weeks episode, missing the last bit. Very aggravating.

  3. Josh Zyber

    I have Comcast and a Motorola DVR. Don’t remember the model number or revision offhand. I don’t have this problem with every show. Most record from beginning to end just fine. And in those rare cases where a network programs an extra-long episode that goes 5-10 minutes beyond normal, the DVR will catch it automatically so long as the network has announced the times correctly.

    But these stupid games where the network lets the show run over 30 seconds without officially scheduling it like that cause me to lose the end of certain shows every week.

  4. Adam


    I get this problem too, and I HATE it. It seems like it’s happening more and more, and gets worse as the night rolls on. I mentioned it I think in a comment on last week’s Thursday night review. I have Dish Network, and it cuts me off like that. Usually during Community it cuts off mid-tag. By the time it gets to The Office, it generally cuts off the entire tag. So, it clips and you lose a punchline, or best case scenario, it catches most of the joke, but then you have it spread across two recordings. I like to keep the current seasons of Community, Office, 30 Rock on my DVR, so I have to keep all of ALL of the episodes just to catch the tags. And yes, extending the recording sucks because it then eats up two tuners when you’re recording Community AND 30 Rock at the same time for just that two minutes. By the way, it’s not just the broadcast networks. History and Discovery do this to me too. I thought maybe Dish had their timing just off by a minute, never thought about it being deliberate. That’s just cheap and vindictive!

    What I wish is that, if they aren’t going to fix the issue, that the DVR would let us start shows a minute LATE. Unfortunately, you can only start early and end late, not the converse. I’d love to be able to run a show a minute longer and have the following show start a minute later. No reason for networks to be so darn petty though – especially NBC. Not like they have a whole lot going for them, other than 7-8:30 (Central) Thursdays.

    This is the third article I’ve commented on already this morning. Guess it’s a slow day at work.

  5. it also might be an affiliate thing. i will be speaking to a friend on cam in another city and we will be watching something on fox and hers is 20-30 seconds before mine we thought it might be lag but we watched other channels and we synced fine.

  6. I have Dish Network and a VIP622 dual tuner DVR which also houses an over the air tuner. I will sometimes program a show to record on both the antenna and the sat, alternating back to back shows between the sat and the antenna, or between tuner 1, tuner 3 and the OTA, but STILL run into issues.

    Fox Sunday nights are one of my pet peeves. They will usually show an old episode of The Simpsons at 6:30, followed by the new episode at 7. The 6:30 episode ends pretty much with the studio logo, then the 7:00 episode starts with the couch gag, so I miss the chalkboard gag entirely – UNLESS it just happens to be a night when they are not showing two Simpson episodes back to back.

    My major annoyance is Comedy Central. Futurama will often have the bottom of the screen torn during the last minute of the show, where it shows the end credits of its show and the beginning credits of the next show on top of the show while its still playing. Its hell on the DVR! And if they are having a South Park marathon, they will sometimes run the shows with fewer commercials, meaning that my first recording will have about 3-4 minutes of the next show, the second recording will have 6-7 minutes of the next show, third recording 9-10 minute of the next show, etc.

    I also get annoyed at some HBO shows. Sometimes the shows themselves are cut so they won’t run in the allotted time frame (Big Love, looking at you), so the DVR cuts off the end of the show. Sometimes HBO knows the show will go long, puts that in the guide and the DVR adjusts, but because of this, it sometimes either does not record or cancels out another recording scheduled in that next hour’s timeslot. This leads me to hitting the internet for the episode that my DVR missed.

  7. Truthfully, with my PC now hooked up to my TV, I am turning to watching more and more shows online for crap like this that the networks pull. It would also be nice if, say there is a sporting event that runs over, they could immediately send an update to program providers, some type of flag, saying “adjust DVR settings”. There are many times that I have only caught the first 10 or 15 minutes of The Simpsons for this, as I normally do not like what Fox puts in their 7:30 time slot.

  8. comedy central after midnight sucks for DVR. i would get like five minutes of the previous show and lose the last 5 min of the show im taping.and showtime is bad at this also. i went to DVR a movie and added a minute to the movie , and it still cut off the begining of the movie.

  9. BostonMA

    i have the same provide and DVR as you Josh and i too experience this all the time (mostly with Forensic Files and The Office. for The Office, i’ll have to go to On Demand, fast forward to the end and then, realize that it wasn’t really worth the extra time and effort spent to see the last few seconds of the particular episode.

    ahh, hopefully someone at Comcast reads this and takes initiative.

    • Adam

      Comcast?? Initiative? You’re joking, right?

      The only initiative that Comcast knows is jacking up prices and bending over customers.

  10. besch64

    Yeah, Community is always the worst offender because the last few seconds are usually brilliant. It blows, because I have always watch the first 29:50 of the show on my DVR because I want to see it in HD, but then I have to go on Hulu to watch the last 10 seconds. Ugh.

  11. that1guypictures

    I tape the whole Thursday night on NBC, and the CBS comedy block at the same time. On my Directv receiver, the DVR runs the program over by 1 minute on every program I record, both before and after the show. It duplicates the recorded data on 30 rock. For example my 30 rock usually has about 40 seconds of Community at the beginning, and 40 seconds of the office at the end. Of course my DVR dies frequently, so every provider has issues. But this is my favorite thing about my DVR.

  12. Junie Ray

    Josh you are so right – this drives me nuts! We have Charter Communications and their DVR. I’ll have to try the NBC Thursday night shows on our Tivo to see if it picks up the endings correctly.