Thursday, May 18, 2006

Easy Commercial, Easy Go

Since we're in the middle of the upfronts, where most companies purchase ads for the Fall TV season, we get to hear all about ad-skipping studies. We hear that "87% [of DVR owners] said they use the skip function frequently."

Sounds about right. I reckon the other 13% just can't find the remote.

Think this problem is new? Think again.

Let's look back 21 years ago via Stephen Advokat's Seattle Times article (May 26, 1985), "Tired of Commercials? Then Zap Them"
According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., more than 5 percent of the prime-time television audience switches channels during commercials, and 50 percent of the people watching programs on VCRs fast-forward through the spots.
In that same article, we read about one technology that allows TV watchers to record shows without commercials. That means you don't even have to push a button to skip an ad. Here's a short description.
It's the Vidicraft CCU-120 Commercial Cutter, a device that electronically edits television commercials from programs as they are being taped on a video cassette recorder.

The company says its unit can eliminate between 90 and 98 percent of all commercials through three microprocessors that analyze audio and video elements of the television signal. When the CCU-120 senses that a commercial is over, it automatically rewinds the tape to the start of the ad and begins recording over it.

But consumers have been cool to Vidicraft's commercial cutter.

Even though the $399 suggested list price has been discounted in some stores to about $250, company representatives admit it's too expensive for mass sales.

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