Sunday, October 26, 2008

Waiting for the DVD box set

One of the aspects of concern to the comic book industry are those fans who, rather than read their funny books piecemeal, prefer to wait for the collected edition to be published. This is done for various reasons but I don't like my comic books that way. I don't want to wait 6 months for an event to be over to read it, I need my weekly fix.

I am however starting to understand that philosophy when it comes to television shows.

Years ago before cable television the Station Identification spot was something done between commercials. Since there were basically only 3 major networks and one or two others in a local market it was more to comply with broadcasting regulations than to remind the viewer what network they were tuned to. Later, as a hundred or more stations became available cable networks were rightly concerned that viewers didn't know, could not keep track or cared what station they were watching. So the channel identifier began to appear. The channel identifier was originally a logo that remained in the picture somewhere and was initially received as annoying and intrusive. It usually hovered in the lower right corner of the screen. It made people angry and also discouraged some people from copying a show on VHS. For a time it was thought the logo would turn off those who watched recorded shows and also served to mark any recording as a copy and not an original tape.

Very quickly providers responded to the complaints that the logo was in the way and was degrading enjoyment of their shows. Of the few channels I watched back then the SciFi network was the most clever in how they used the logos. When a show returned from a commercial break the logo appeared in full view and remained for only a few moments before fading to near invisibility, appearing as a watermark which could be easily ignored. After a few years most providers realized the channel identifier was a wasted opportunity for advertising. Now that people were used to the logo on the screen the companies felt that the opportunity to annoy their customers was something that could not be overlooked. The small logo became once again bothersome and intrusive.

With increasing frequency animated banner ads slide, linger and flicker across the television screen during a show. The amount and style of the advertisements have become ridiculous. In the two examples provided here from the SciFi channel the ads take up about half the screen and each one lingers for a few seconds too long. Formerly a minor nuisance they are now large enough and intrusive enough to ruin the enjoyment of watching a show. There have been instances on some networks and this show that I personally witnessed when a prop or reveal of a dramatic moment has been eclipsed by an advertisement for some upcoming program or appeal to buy items from the show at the official website.

So after watching Stargate: Atlantis last night and getting all cranky I decided from now on to pretty much wait for the season DVD to be issued before watching that show again and a few others I follow. The ever-present channel logo, is for the most part something I can ignore with little difficulty. But now the logos are now routinely used as the anchors for spamming banner ads and pop-ups for various shows and products, something that has caused entire computer companies to be created to combat on our personal computers.

I'm only one ornery dude but there are a lot of people on the fence about turning on their televisions anyway and regular viewership numbers are constantly falling even against new content and more channels than ever before. Maybe these companies need to think about not irritating their viewership and customers any more than they absolutely have to. After all, using a simple browser add-on removes 99% of all advertising and spam from internet sites and people routinely hack past the commercials on their digital television recorders. Given the technology available to the average consumer I'd propose that it wouldn't take much for the Era of Advertising to be entirely a thing of the past.


  1. OMG I hate those stupid things so much.

    Not only did the logos convince me to stop watching the few SciFi shows I loved, I ended up canceling cable entirely. I can wait for the DVD to come up in my Netflix queue.

  2. Yeah, I get distracted easily enough when watching TV anyway, I don't need the visual equivalent of a DJ talking through a song on the radio. Especially if he's not talking about the song itself but some other song I'm being encouraged to listen to.

    My TV viewing has dropped dramatically in the past few years and such bare-faced attempts to maximize revenue are a big part of the reason. You poor networks can't make ends meet? Fine, pack it in and let someone else have the bandwidth. I'd rather watch earnest amateurs than ruthless professionals any day.

  3. the constant moving and dancing and swirling and twirling and flying in makes me think that someone with too much powerpoint experience decided to ruin that few shows taht i do still watch: Doctor Who, Project Runway, 30 Rock, Top Chef or... wait, thats it. I only watch 4 tv shows period.

    And they still manage to mess it up for me. I'm sure that they can justify it to maximizing the eyeballs taht they do have, but it is wrong to the professionals who are desperately trying to put out a product that can interest people. So the very thing that they think will save their shrinking numbers is exactly what will ruin it for them further.


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