Technology Thought Experiments

How Cable Companies could make Commercials more useful

Why not let the viewer schedule a reminder/recording for a show advertised 3-4 weeks in advance of it airing on digital cable?

Perhaps it’s the state of things, but as I spend less time glued to the computer, and more time finding interesting TV shows to fill my evenings, I’m faced with seeing more and more commercials. Fortunately, I am able to time-shift most of my viewing choices to a more appropriate or available time-slot in my life, and can fast-forward through the commercials.

However, there are times when I’m there, the show is on, and there is nothing else to do but watch – and the commercials drone on like background noise for a bathroom break or a disappointing rummage through the fridge & kitchen pantry. Occasionally there will be an ad for an upcoming show on the network (History, SyFy & Science Channel are bad about this) that will air 2, 3 or 4 weeks out.

This is where the Cable Company could step in for the customers with DVR.

If I’ve got a DVR and digital cable, there should be a little icon for the advertised tv show in the watermark corner – or even toggle the watermark itself with a little message asking me if I’d like to set a reminder for this show.

Ideally, I’d be able to click the OK/Select button, and the cable box would set a reminder for the upcoming show. If that time-slot rolls around, and my attention is not on it, or I don’t respond to the reminder, it should automatically record the program for me.

Time Warner has already started (as of a couple months ago) a process (that was initially creepy) of changing the channel to some pre-determined channel they want to bring to your attention if your cable box is on, but your attention is not on, the channel it is *supposedly* broadcasting to your TV. I guess this is to prevent ratings padding for a particular channel. They then allow you to continue watching if you click the OK/Select button on the remote in the response time allotted.

This same type of system could be used to trigger a recording if, in fact, your TV happens to be tuned to the correct channel for the show, but it is not turned on. Thus:

  • If you don’t respond to the reminder when you’re on another channel: Record
  • If you don’t respond to the OK/Select request when you’re on the right channel: Record
  • If you do respond, offer the option to record, watch, or both.

Then, I wouldn’t mind sitting through a couple commercials, to ensure that I don’t miss a show I might actually want to see, in the midst of Cialis & Viagra spam ads.

Speaking of which, why are those blocked from our email, but not from TV? Seems like there should be a spam setting. But that is for another post.

By [[Neo]]

I am a web programmer, system integrator, and photographer. I have been writing code since high school, when I had only a TI-83 calculator. I enjoy getting different systems to talk to each other, coming up with ways to mimic human processes using technology, and explaining how complicated things work.

Of my many blogs, this one is purely about the technology projects, ideas, and solutions that I have come across in my internet travels. It's also the place for technical updates related to my other sites that are part of The-Spot.Network.

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