It All "Adds" Up: TV Commercials of the Future: "With Pressure from [Digital Video Recorders], Advertisers and Ad Agencies Searching for Something to Replace the 30-Second Commercial Are Utilizing Placement with a Vengeance, Especially in Game, Reality, Ad Lifestyle Programs."

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"With pressure from [digital video recorders], advertisers and ad agencies searching for something to replace the 30-second commercial are utilizing placement with a vengeance, especially in game, reality, and lifestyle programs."

TELEVISION soon will confront a dramatic dilemma--its advertising must change or networks will be forced to develop new sources of revenue. Television income derives almost entirely from advertising sales--especially the 30-second spot. However, they frequently exasperate audiences. Exercising their options, viewers have turned down the volume, flipped channels, or turned off the set during commercials. Now, individuals owning digital video recorders (DVRs) or personal video recorders (PVRs) automatically can delete all (or some) of the many commercials simply by touching a button, or they can last forward through commercials with ease--thanks to Sonic/Blue's ReplayTV with a delete button and TiVo with its fast forward button.

Unlike VCRs, which rely on the hassle of videotape, Sonic/Blue's boxes feature hard disks. Model 5160 features 160-hour capability, and recording a TV show is simple--hit a button once on the remote control and the show records digitally, hit it twice and every episode of that program is captured automatically. With Live TV Control, a person can elect to pause, show instant replay, or view in slow motion or frame-by-frame. The Theme Record feature categorizes by the film's star, theme, or key word. Sonic/Blue's 5000 model, compatible with cable, satellite, and antenna program feeds, connects easily to a home computer network through a built-in Ethernet port. This provides the ability to view digital photo slideshows on a TV set, and with broadband and Internet access, recorded shows can be sent to other locations. By using the ReplayTV's Commercial Advance button (the box recognizes signaled commercial breaks and deletes them), it is possible to play back recorded shows without commercials. With the QuickSkip button, specific commercials or certain parts of a film can be by-passed.

Launched in 1999, TiVo's Digital Video Recorder produces high-definition picture quality and has pause, rewind, slow motion, and instant replay "live" TV, with up to 60 hours of recording capacity. TiVo's DVR could produce 1,000,000 sales within a year. Forrester Research Group predicts that 16% of American homes will have a DVR by the end of 2005. TiVo's Season Pass feature will trace throughout a season every episode of a series, regardless of date and/or time changes. The WishList feature sorts programs by actor, director, team, or topic, and it skips reruns.

According to CBS research, 50% of viewers with TiVo watch prime-time shows by playback and avoid 70% of commercials. The fast-forward button features fast, faster, and very fast speeds to use to skip commercials. In a NextResearch study of 1,027 PVR users. 72% indicated that when they play back recorded shows, they watch ads only occasionally; 23% said they pass over all ads.

TiVo connects to an existing phone line without interfering with service; it works with antenna, cable, digital cable, satellite, or combinations thereof; and its website provides information for self-installation. It has an onscreen menu as easy to use as an Internet site. Having generated interest in many parts of the country, especially in California's Hollywood and Silicon Valley, TiVo appears to have a loyal and steadfast subscriber base. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell, who admits to being a gadget freak, recently stated. "TiVo is God in my household. I can't wait ... each day to see what it has recorded for me."

America Online (AOL) members now can program their TiVo Series 2 personal video recorders through the AOL service free of charge. Using a button labeled "Record to my TiVo DVR," subscribers will be able to direct their own recording preferences. According to AOL, the service soon will be available via cell phones, pagers, and personal digital assistants (PDAs). …


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