Television hasn’t faced a change like this since the remote control was popularized. Digital Video Recorder (DVR) systems are altering television as we know it. Although the technology was introduced years ago, it hasn’t been until recently that most Americans have some sort of DVR technology for use in their homes. Whether the system is TiVo or Replay TV, whether the system is cable or PC based, the powers to record programs and pause live television are in the hands of the viewer.
Because DVR is frequently used to fast-forward past commercials, advertising on television faces new challenges. Alternative television advertising like sponsorship, product placement, and during the program “banner” and “logo bug” advertisements are growing.
However, the traditional television advertisement is not entirely doomed. There is still a place for the 30-second ad in sports. Sports have a “here and now” urgency that does not translate into recordability. It’s important to watch sports live.
First of all, sports are on everywhere. Say you live in New York, for example, and decide to work late, do some errands and then go home to watch the game that you’ve recorded. The chances are that some part of the game will be ruined for you in your errand time. It is common to see a doorman who is listening to a game on the radio, drop in to a convenience store where the cashier has a small TV, and walk by a bar with the game on a huge high-definition television that is so big and so clear that you can’t help but catch the score. Once you get home and want to watch a pre-recorded game, but know the current score, you may as well just start watching it live.
Also, if you want to record sports on DVR, you have to record both the show set to play after the sporting event along with the sporting event. Otherwise, if the game goes into overtime, extra innings, shoot-out, sudden death, or whatever means of game extension your chosen sports prefers, you will not be able to see it because the network only allotted a set amount of time for the game in their programming.
Like the news, sports have a social “did you see that?” element which also does not translate to recording and watching at your leisure. The bigger the game, the more the urgency to watch it as it’s being played. The less important the game, the less it feels necessary to record. For a “whatever” in-season game, you tune in when you can.
Commercials during sports have a certain “duck out” quality. A pitching change is a great time for a bathroom break. A time out is a terrific opportunity to refresh your food and beverage situation. Halftime is a nice block that can be used for showering, chores, and maybe even a quick stint at the gym. But commercials are still seen more during sporting events than other programs because learning about a new car or an old beer is better than watching a right-fielder jog to his position and adjust his jock strap between innings.
Originally published on March 18th in Citizen News (Sherman, New Fairfield Edition)
Article also posted on Player Press