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DVRs vs. the Networks: Mammals vs. Dinosaurs

Thursday’s Daily Media News revealed that ABC has been in talks to disable the ad-skip features of DVRs.  Like the other big dinosaurs of the entertainment industry (the RIAA and the MPAA), ABC apparently thinks that by haulting the progress of technology, they have a fighting chance to preserve their industry. 

Like VoIP, the DVR is a classic example of an industry-disrupting technology built on the premise that intelligence should move to the edge of the network.  By putting computing and storage at the end of the broadcast transmission, DVRs give consumers the ability to catalog, time-shift, and store their favorite programming.  As anyone who has ever used a DVR will testify, it completely changes the experience of television.  The better DVR’s, like TIVO and REPLAY, can even search out programming you might like based on previously stated preferences, and observed viewing habits.

Rather than fight progress, as ABC’s resident dinosaur Mike Smith seems to be suggesting, ABC could work with DVR manufacturers to introduce better advertising. For example:

  1. DVRs know viewing habits, which advertising is skipped and which is watched.  Why not tailor future advertising to the viewers habits?  There is an opportunity for an contextually driven advertising play, like Google Adsense, here.  You could pre-load the DVR (most of which are now internet connected) with 30 second video spots tailored to the viewers habits, and play advertising which is more likely to be watched.
  2. By using ad skip features, DVR users have said that their time is valuable.  The data to determine what’s on the television already exists in the close captioning stream, and the program guide. DVRs could disassemble programming, and reassemble it based on content.  For instance, how about a personal program of the latest hockey highlights of my favorite teams?   What would targeted advertising in that personalized stream be worth?

By working with DVR manufacturers to develop a Google-like advertising model, the networks might be able to preserve or increase their revenues.  Fighting the DVR by jamming more badly targeted and unwanted advertising to the consumer will simply drive more people to the internet to satisfy their entertainment needs.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Zachary Houle July 10, 2006, 10:02 am

    I no understand! I thought the TV networks were already rolling in product placements on hit TV shows to counteract this issue. So is ABC-TV saying it just can't attract enough ad revenue via product placement? What gives? (And where are they in the ratings again?)

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