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Not watching television is making me fat.

In The Influence of TiVo, Dale Dougherty talks about how TiVo has changed the perception of television.  When TiVo, and it’s competitor ReplayTV, came out, they completely changed my use of television, and permanently. The critical feature was not storage capacity, the ability to pause live TV, nor the onscreen guide, but rather that the device had the intelligence to be able to select programming that I might want to see at a later time.  I routinely set the box to scan for my favorite program (Star Trek — yes, I am a geek!), and then watched episode after episode at my leisure, usually during my daily workout.  I parked the treadmill in front of the TV.

When I returned to Canada in 2000, I spent heavily on a home theater.  We built a room in our new house, and equipped it with a 62″ high definition television, a kickass sound system, high definition satellite decoder, etc etc etc.  But you know, my Replay box quit working.  There were no listings available for it north of the US border. ExpressVu, the satellite provider I use here in Canada, doesn’t provide an adequate substitute.  Their PVR (which I own also) is a crufty old unit based on the Dishplayer.  Rogers, their competition on cable, is no better.  Both of their PVR products are basically overgrown VCRs that demand to be programmed all the time.   They don’t provide the value that a PVR needs to provide.  They don’t help me select from the 500 odd channels of programming that the satellite provides in any meaningful way.  Their products make it a chore to search the guide for the programming that I want to see, and channel surfing serves up endless reams of garbage programming. 

Nothing has changed my viewing habits more than the simple keyword select / record capability of those original PVR devices — not high definition (which I love), nor satellite, nor pay per view.  And now that I’ve been denied that capability, I no longer have the patience to go back to watching TV the old way.  Television has lost any advertising dollars that might be associated with my viewing, because I simply no longer watch. 

For the last seven years, aside from the odd hockey game, TV has been dead for me.   I missed most of Enterprise, and a lot of Voyager.  I’ve never seen an episode of the new Battlestar Galactica, which I understand is getting rave reviews.  I haven’t ever seen the Office, Weeds, Colbert (except on YouTube), Prison Break, the new Dr. Who, Rome, Grey’s Anatomy, House or… well, the list goes on and on.  My theater, which I spent so lavishly on, has become a place to watch DVD movies, not television.

Give me a PVR that does what a PVR should do, Bell ExpressVu, and I will be back in a heartbeat.  If Rogers does it first, expect me to ditch all of my ExpressVu gear and jump ship.  If neither of you can muster the will to provide products that your customers truly want to buy… well, you deserve to die the death that the internet and BitTorrent will surely bring you.

And you know what the worst part is?  My treadmill is still parked in front of my TV… gathering dust.  In dropping TV, I’ve also mostly dropped my workout.  Ironically, not watching television is making me fat.

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Phil Wolff January 18, 2007, 10:16 am

    Hmmm. I wonder if there's a way to hook up a treadmill to my computer…

    Still a mouse potatoe,

    – Phil

  • Alec January 18, 2007, 12:31 pm

    Yeah… there are two things preventing me from doing this. #1 I really don't want any more complication in my life. I am already admin for 9 PC's, a PBX, a digital Jukebox, and a bunch of wireless network devices in my house. #2, now that I have HD, I want an HD PVR. TiVo has one, I've just found out, but only compatible with cable, not satellite. Perhaps it's time to investigate again.

  • Jason Yeung January 18, 2007, 1:27 pm

    Hey Alec,

    You know you can get TiVo in Canada…I pay around $10/month for the service. The box was free.

    Here’s a blurb by TiVo on Canadian service:
    http://www.tivo.com/1.6.1.asp#9

    Anyways…back to work.

    – Jason

  • Katherine January 18, 2007, 2:28 pm

    Maybe you should start watching TV again. There’s is a great new Saturday morning lineup on CBS. Check it out http://www.secretslumberparty.com

  • Matthew January 18, 2007, 2:56 pm

    I’ve mentioned this to you before, but if you bought a ReplayTV 5K series–contact me if you want one–you can run a simple program on a networked Windows box called WiRNS. You can then feed your ReplayTV Canadian listings through WiRNS. If you want more info, let me know. It ISN’T that difficult.

  • Mum January 19, 2007, 7:29 am

    I'm sure the dogs would love it if you took up jogging!

  • Ronald Wielink January 22, 2007, 3:39 am

    Since you admit that you're a geek: get a mythtv setup. http://www.mythtv.org...

  • Alec January 22, 2007, 9:24 am

    I’m kind of stymied at the moment, Ronald. There’s only one over the air HD channel here in Ottawa. I really want a satellite PVR with the capabilities of TiVO. Make sense?

  • marc February 21, 2007, 4:45 pm

    You can buy Tivo in Canada now. I got mine at The PVR Source in Calgary. Their site is http://www.thepvrsource.com if anyone is interested. Awesome customer service and they offer a full warranty. Highly recommend them.

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