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Skipping Commercials...

By smithdm3 - Posted on 23 May 2003

Okay, so I was thinking today (thought sparked by slashdot post) about how PVRs and VCRs skip commercials. Now I'm assuming that outside of the 30sec skip ahead function, that if they ditch commercials it's based on the signalling that the networks place in their feeds to the broadcasters and cablecos. Now, if they were to remove this inband signalling (at least at the broadcaster or cableco point), these devices wouldn't be able to skip them anymore without manual intervention.
Another proposal, to defeat that manual intervention/30sec skip function; make your commercial breaks more random in terms of length. Sometimes let commercials run for 40 seconds, sometimes 20, sometimes 30. That'll screw up people who are trying to fast forward as they'll miss 10 seconds all the time.
The networks can solve their problems with TiVo like devices themselves... well, at least apart from the "evening lineup" problem. (That's where networks put on a "loss leader" like Friends in order to bolster viewership for crappy programs which then boosts overall advertising revenue.) But hey, they can solve that one with better overall programming. ;)

If you want to skip commercials completely, you just need to get one of those old analog satellite dishes. Then you can watch the network feeds directly, in studio-quality video which far exceeds (10~20db better signal-to-noise) the quality of digital cable or digital satellite. These feeds have triggers for network-fed commercials and local inserts, plus you can see what Leno/Letterman/SNL/Brokaw do during commercial breaks.
It's tough for them to randomize things because then they'd have to change the way ad time is sold as well, and all kinds of affiliate, agency and advertiser contracts would need to be adjusted.

I was under the impression that PVRs could also skip commercials based on the audio volume which typically increases as a series of commercials begins.

That'd be another great thing they could do themselves... By the way, I don't think it's actual volume level that changes, but rather what changes is the "difference in volume highs and lows" that is, everything is shifted up so that there are no lows and everything sounds louder.

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