Mid-Week Poll: Do You Watch or Skip TV Commercials?

In recent lawsuits, major broadcast networks NBC, CBS and Fox have all attempted to sue Dish Network over the satellite provider’s so-called “Auto Hop” feature that allows viewers to automatically skip TV commercials. This makes me wonder: How many of you actually watch commercials?

Commercials are a necessary evil for broadcast TV. Aside from the premium subscription channels, advertising pays for the programming we watch. On the other hand, commercials are at best a nuisance for viewers. In today’s day and age, we have the technology to easily record our shows by DVR and simply fast forward through the ads (whether we need the Hopper to do this for us or not).

While I’m not a lawyer, I don’t see how the networks have a leg to stand on (no pun intended) with these lawsuits. They claim that the Hopper feature amounts to a “copyright violation,” which seems ridiculous to me. Fast Forward buttons have been a standard feature of VCRs, DVRs and other recording devices for decades. The network has no authority to mandate how a viewer chooses to watch its content. Whether the courts agree is something yet to be determined.

I record pretty much everything. Even for priority shows, I’ll give myself at least 15-20 minute buffer before I start watching so that I can skip commercials. Do you do the same, or do you watch programs live with commercials?

Do You Watch Commercials?

View Results

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  1. T.J. Kats

    Voted watch important shows live and put up with commercials but wanted to note a majority of important shows are on HBO or Showtime so there are no commercials to mess with.

    For me the tv week starts on Sunday so I’ll usually watch stuff on those nights live and anything that is recorded on Sunday gets watched Monday and so on as I get caught up throu the week.

  2. HuskerGuy

    Went with “other” as I’m a mix of watching some shows live and with commercials and dvr’ing others.

    If we have shows to watch on dvr, then we watch those and record anything going live. If there is nothing, then we watch live and live with commercials.

    Additionally, I watch a fair amounts of sports which is of course live so I get commercials there as well.

  3. “advertising pays for the programming we watch”.

    This is a common misconception. TV channels exists for commercials, not for the programs. Programs brings in the viewers that makes it possible to sell commercials.

      • I don’t think so. There’s a big difference in motive for the owners.

        If people would watch commercials without programs, would they make programs anyway? If programs could be made for free, and still attract the same audience, would they remove the commercials?

        • Josh Zyber

          I think we’re just debating semantics here. Regardless of motives, the programs exist because they’re paid for by income from the advertisers.

          Premium channels like HBO or Showtime should answer your second question. They’re able to produce programs without commercials by funding them with subscription income instead.

        • Sorry but your dead wrong, the big channels sell advertising based on the shows viewer count and numbers.

          It’s how they can validate charging certain rates for certain blocks, i.e.; primetime costs more than soap opera time or talk show time etc.

          Asking the questions you pose does not change the reality of television. HBO exists without commercials because the lions share of your cable bill goes to HBO whether or not you subscribe to it.

          But as for other channels like FOX, NBC etc, the ratings are still King and if a show does not pull in the numbers it get’s axed, due to the fact that the advertising dollars won’t go to a show that isn’t providing enough people to warrant the high cost.

          Like everything in life, it’s about the Money.

  4. Annonymous

    This poll needs to be changed from bullets to check-boxes. Several of these options apply to me.

    As for the DVR, what I do is not one of the options. I usually forward through them, but if my remote is not handy, I may watch the first one or two in a break before finding the remote. I know many people like that, so it seems that networks should charge premiums for the first commercial to air in a break.

    Also, when jumping through, if a commercial catches my eye visually, or makes me say, “What the heck”, I have gone back and actually watched a commercail. I actually now have commercials I actually like, and if I see them, I will rewind and watch them. Ones that come to mind off the top of my head are Progressive, All State, State Farm, Apple, Gap and Old Navy, and a few others. To me, if a commercial is funny or visually stunning, I will actually watch it.

    As for my choices, on top of those, I also use Netflix, Amaazon, Vudu, CrunchyRoll and Hulu, but am frustrated that I can only get American and a handful of Japanese and British shows. I LOVE the Got Talent shows, but sadly can only watch America’s Got Talent here, and have to turn to other sources to get Britain, Canada, Austrailia, Holland, Sweeden, Ukraine and Russia (and I would watch more countries if I could actually find them). I would happily watch commercials or pay a subscription fee to get these programs, as what I find online are generally low quality, and sometimes missing episodes or even entire seasons.

    There are also a few shows I got hooked on when I lived in Austria that I cannot find AT ALL anywhere.

    Dish at least carries some international channels, but they don’t carry the shows I want to watch.

    What someone needs to do is basically setup an international service similar to Hulu. This service would have shows from all over the world, whereas the service provider pays no upfront fees. The networks and studios are then compensated based on how many people watch the show. Depending on studio, network, or a show’s popularity outside of country of origin, you could then offer subtitles in different languages. Something similar to CrunchyRoll.

    Sadly, the issue with this is that far too many places will probably want to license their shows up front, making such a setup almost impossible. Studio and network greed will mean that instead of getting some money based on number of viewers from something like this, they will get NO money from people jumping on bittorrent and YouTube and other illiciet streaming services.

    • Agreed, the modern TV consumer has many of these items that apply to them.

      Here’s a brief rundown of my TV viewing.

      1. iTunes, used to hate the idea of paying $2.99 per episode but the fact is, its the best bet for my money. Not only do I get to choose when I watch shows but I OWN them (at least as much as you can own any digital media these days). I can watch the episodes on all of my Mac’s, my iPad and even my iPhone so I desire. I have apple an Apple TV 3rd Gen in my Living room for 1080p downloads and streaming and I have a 2nd Gen in my Bedroom for ease of use streaming of my purchased shows and Netflix. I mainly use this for the main shows I watch, like Fringe, Supernatural, Doctor Who etc. I would watch more if the dumb ass content providers would stop with their ancient method of tiered release schedules. Never understood why they wouldn’t just release everything all at the same time in different places and get as much money as they can.

      2. Netflix, I watch a lot of older shows I didn’t bother with during their initial runs. In fact I just finished watching the 4th season of Flashpoint, a great Canadian show that CBS picked up and distributed. If you haven’t watched this, you should really check it out. Great Cop drama that doesn’t resort to the macho cop stereotype.

      3. Hulu Plus I use this to keep up with shows that are more current and that I actively watch like Community, 30 Rock, Grimm, Once upon a time etc. It’s a good service but the idiots at the studios are trying my patience by adding more and more commercials. 3 has been my limit and once they hit 4 per break on a consistent basis, I fully intend to cancel my Hulu Plus account.

      4. Windows Media Center – For a long long time I had cancelled my Cable TV Sub, but I wanted to try out Stream Pix when Comcast released it a few months ago to see if it was worth the $5 per month. So after I built a new HTPC Gaming rig for my living room for Diablo III, Skyrim etc. I plugged in a dual tuner card I had from a few years ago and started recording a lot of shows that I normally would not pay for. I was able to catch up on 3 years of Criminal Minds. I don’t use it very much other than that because it’s just as easy to watch the stuff on Hulu Plus as it is on the Media center, though I do like the ability to skip channels on the Media Center.

      This brings me to the final way I get content, and it’s almost exclusively CBS related and If I don’t keep my HBO sub, Game of Thrones related.

      CBS refuses to wake the hell up and put their content on Netflix for older seasons. How do these idiots thing people are going to discover their shows? I’m the type of person that won’t EVER watch a show if I can’t start from the beginning. So with CBS unless I am able to watch all of the seasons to the current one I’ll never start. If it weren’t for less reputable means of getting shows like, Big Bang Theory I wouldn’t have watched it at all.

      Then there are the confusing things like “How I met your mother”, I believe there are 5 seasons on Netflix and I went through them in like 3 weeks maybe less, why is it then that none of this is on HULU Plus.

      OH and their web viewing, is just god awful, they might as well just shut that site down because it’s just not worth the cost of the bandwidth.

      In fact I would say that the only major channel that has web based viewing done right is ABC, but of course they can be morons as well since they used to have all of the seasons of lost on there complete and then one day just decided to remove it I’m sure due to complaints by Syndicated station owners etc.

      The old way needs to die already, This is taking way too damned long.

  5. UGH what is so difficult about editing in these forum systems. How the hell do they even sell you something like this without the ability to delete or edit your own posts after the fact.

    Is it really that difficult?

    • William Henley

      Shouldn’t be that hard to implement. This site uses WordPress, and there are plugins that allow for it. I found this in a quick Google Search – http://stackoverflow.com/questions/5033772/allow-users-to-see-and-edit-their-posts-from-the-front-end

      I am at work, so not able to see this site, its blocked by the lovely McAfee Web Gateway.

      There are other ways to do this. Force users to setup accounts. Assign those users to a Contributor group. Setup the options that only let them add posts to a page, so they cannot start new pages. You could then use the regular WordPress interface to edit your posts.

      There are also front-ends that allow users to create profiles and edit their content, which may be more what we are looking for here.

      In any case, if one doesn’t exist, I am sure there is someone who knows enough programing here in the HDD forums to throw together a plugin for this.

  6. dish needs a shell company that sells Auto Hop only to dish customers, wherein I think everyone wins.

    I have a hard time justifying a quarter of every hour of show watching spent seeing commercials, many of which either advertise products that don’t apply to me or that I already purchase.

    Just like cable though, they get me with live sports. Right now, they play the same Uverse commercial every break during the NBA playoffs, and I wish that at minimum they would film a different commercial for some variety.

  7. VIOZ

    I’m the kind of person who thinks of watching TV shows, movies or listening to albums as an experience: I love discs with trailers before the movie because it feels like in the movie theater, I listen through the 20 minutes of silence before the bonus track in a CD and I love the feeling I get when a TV show segment ends in a cliffhanger and I have to wait for a bunch of ads to end to know the result; I even pause the shows I download from the web and do something else during the “fake” commercials. Would a season finale be as powerful as they are if you could just watch the next episode the next minute? Commercial breaks ARE part of the show!

    • EM

      Indeed, some TV episodes might be slightly less comprehensible without the commercial break or at least the knowledge of it. I once showed a DVD of Star Trek: The Next Generation to a youthful neophyte who at one point asked me whether we had just passed the commercial break; it was a fair question, for the dramatic effect would have been awkward if the swelling music and fadeout and return to the same story moment had occurred mid-act.

      When listening to old-time radio, I often enjoy the commercials. Some are inextricable from the programs; for example, various iterations of The Jack Benny Program—whose official title varied with the current sponsor—would, sometimes hilariously, work the sponsor into the storyline. Some OTR ads are more the cookie-cutter type that are quite familiar on TV today, but even many of those are enjoyable. (And there are fewer of them per OTR program.) Of course, then, as now, some ads have been more entertaining than others.

  8. Josh Holden

    I don’t understand why CBS, FOX, & NBC execs don’t want us to enjoy commercial-free TV. I’m a DISH employee – AutoHop is great because you can easily watch commercial-free TV. Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group, is taking a stand for consumers by creating a petition that tells CBS, FOX, & NBC media to keep their hands out of your living room & DVR. Sign their petition to keep control of how you watch TV http://bit.ly/KFdn1Q

    • EM

      Since commercial viewing essentially pays for those networks, they are opposed because ad skipping threatens their very existence. While I, like Josh, am dubious of the legal merits of their cases, I find their motivation extremely easy to understand.

    • EM

      On the other hand, what is Dish’s interest—and Dish’s employees’ interest—here? Obviously Dish hopes to attract and retain customers who expect to enjoy the ad-skipping service. But in the long run, if such services drive the networks out of business, Dish could suffer too. Does Dish consider the effects (the effect on the networks or the effect of losing the networks) negligible? Or is Dish hoping for a transition to a different program-delivery system that Dish can gain an advantage from (e.g., by becoming an exclusive streamer of programs that have no broadcast network to run on)?

  9. Alex

    Can I mention that sometimes (read: Super Bowl), I actually enjoy the commercials?

    Every once in a while there’s a commercial that is actually enjoyable. I love the Volkswagon kid-Darth Vader commercial, and the recent Clint Eastwood commercial almost had me buying a Chrysler (both Super Bowl spots, I know), but there is something to be said for those commercials that tell a story, that almost act like a mini-film, that make you laugh or even inspire you.

    What I happily skip over are those that tell me how to get longer eyelashes, blood stains out of fabric, cash quick for my car title, or accomplish various tasks ill-suited to my gender.

    • Alex

      Come to think of it, I skip over crappy TV shows too. Hmmm… perhaps the trick is just to produce quality material. Could it be? Nah!!

      • EM

        Good luck with that one…

        (Actually, I’m glad there’s so little on TV that’s worth my time. I’ve got too much to do in too little time as it is!)