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How Cable Companies could make Commercials more useful

How Cable Companies could make Commercials more useful
  • On April 14, 2011

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.


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