The Insider: My DVR, My BFF

Dec 16, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The Insider is like technophobic Regis Philbin when it comes to committing to most high-tech toys. But when it comes to her beloved digital video recorder, The Insider is an over-indexing early adopter, according to information from David Poltrack, who is Mr. Research at CBS, last week at the second annual holiday breakfast for the fast-growing New York: Media Information Exchange Group.
The Insider has had her DVR since Time Warner Cable in Manhattan began offering them. Getting TiVo was a non-starter for a number of reasons, chief among them that it required finding room for an additional piece of equipment in the overflowing media bookcase, whereas the DVR from TWC was a tradeout of one (slightly larger) cable modem for another. And repair and/or replacement is someone else’s burden.
On The Insider’s DVR, 61 series are recorded on standing orders—the newest is ABC’s “Women’s Murder Club” now that it doesn’t mean breaking a longer-standing commitment to CBS’ “Moonlight” and NBC’s de facto defuncto “Friday Night Lights.”
Wait. It’s 60 series since CBS’ “Kid Nation” concluded last week. Even if “Kid Nation” comes back, The Insider probably will skip it—what’s the fun of watching a reality show in which you can’t hate at least one contestant? Who can hate kids and live with themselves?
NBC’s “Journeyman” will come off the record-all list as soon as the two remaining episodes air, because it clearly will never be back.
But The Insider digresses from her point that she is your basic pedal-to-the-metal DVR user who records four hours of prime-time entertainment on a slow night and more than seven hours on a really good night when “must-see TV” is so abundant that the only way to manage it all is to record two at a time while watching a previously recorded show for three hours in a row and then recording a cable series on its 11 p.m. repeat or on another night. (Bravo’s marathoning of repeat episodes requires custom handling.)
The Insider’s list of saved shows right now includes:

  • Four half-hours of “Simply Quilts” with inspirational projects.
  • Five episodes of “Friday Night Lights” (being saved for a personal mini-event over the holidays).
  • A recent “Supernatural” repeat in which Dean (Jensen Ackles) cottons to the idea that he had fathered a spitting-image son.
  • Last week’s repeat of “Two and a Half Men,” solely for the vanity card on which executive producer Chuck Lorre proposed a sitcom spinoff of “The Sopranos” called “Paulie and the Cat.” Not since “Tom & Jerry” and “Road Runner” has the concept of animal cruelty been so funny. Check out vanity card No. 183 at chucklorre.com. While you’re there, check out No. 184. Then bookmark the site and return to it until you’ve laughed yourself silly.
  • No late-night shows since the !@#$%^&* writers strike put them in rerun mode.

Mr. Poltrack said some 45% of viewing in a DVR home is in playback mode and that only 40% of the commercials will be watched, vs. 95% of the commercials being watched during live viewing.
The Insider watches almost nothing “live” except live morning shows, including news shows, and the openings of “Live With Regis & Kelly” and “The View,” because they’re not the same seen not live.
The reasons for watching on delayed playback sometimes are about maintaining the pulse-pounding pace of a “24,” say, by minimizing the commercial interruptions. Sometimes it’s about saving time and managing to watch four hourlong programs in three hours.
But The Insider never has and never will watch commercials except during the Super Bowl or the Oscars, when big, brand-new ads are part of the entertainment package wrapped up for audiences.
When commercials play uninterrupted at their prescribed speed during other programming, it’s probably because The Insider has, ummm, left the room, or is on a hot BrickBreaker streak and happy not to be tempted to take her eyes off the BlackBerry.
But when The Insider is fast-forwarding through commercials—for reasons ranging from not interested to can’t stomach another Feist-style cutesy-puke advertising soundtrack—her eyes are glued to the TV screen so that she will not run past the commercial break.
That’s how she became fascinated with the product placement in the trailers for “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” At least two trailers show computer-generated Alvin in kitchen cupboards stocked with Quaker Oats, Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Goldfish and Lucky Charms.
Doesn’t that level of recall/engagement more than make up for previous ad avoidance? Alvin? Alvin? A-a-a-a-a-l-l-l-l-l-vin-n-n-!?!?


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