Let’s do the time warp again!

December 15, 2009


In this day and age,  it’s a wonder anyone sits down to watch television as it’s being aired anymore.

With the advent of Tivo Digital Video Recorders, online streaming through sites like Hulu.com, and the iTunes store, young people like myself have begun to ditch their cable bill for a more unwired alternative.  It’s given new spark to the old term, “Time Shifting,” which is essentially when a someone records a program for later. It’s what I do when I listen to the podcast of Marketplace every morning on my way to work, and it’s what my girlfriend does when she watches 30 Rock on the web — all 100 percent legal and, most importantly, convenient!

And while our parents may not fully appreciate the simplicity of watching TV on a laptop computer, clearly Nielson says we’re not alone.

According to recently released data from the television watcher-watchers, The Nielsen Company, shows such as SyFy’s BattleStar Galactica, AMC’s Mad Men and FX’s Damages all saw more than a 50 percent rise in viewership thanks to Time Shifting. In fact, the top 10 Time Shifted shows all gained at least 44 percent viewership.

Does this signal the end of broadcast television as we know it?  Well, probably not any more than the cassette recorder killed the radio, or VCR killed TV. But what makes the difference this time around, at least for me, is the simplicity of it all. A host of tech companies are betting that you’ll be switching to Internet-based television soon enough. Even Comcast is experimenting with online television with a Hulu-like service for cable, which the company’s CEO Brian Roberts discussed at this year’s Web 2.0 conference (note: video link).

It’ll be interesting to see where this is all headed. And I bet I’ll find out one night when I’m watching the news on my… yeah, you guessed it.

(Thanks to Silicon Alley Insider and their “Chart of the Day“)


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I used to have a DVR in 2003, but I don’t have one any more. I found I hardly ever used it, and it lacked the image processing smarts that my Freeview TV had – I spent all my time fretting over the highly visible compression artefacts. These days, on those rare occasions when there are two programmes worth watching on at the same time (four times so far this year), I just use my DVD recorder instead. But there isn’t enough decent content these days to fill up even BBC Four – which means most of it gets repeated three or four times within weeks of airing anyway. Thus reducing the need for a DVR even further.

So DVRs have to follow the same rules as any other product – there has to be a use for them, and they have to do their job well.

Posted by IanKemmish | Report as abusive

Mr. Sherr:

YOUR “simplicity” astounds me. For a guy who proclaims “an interest in computers and electronics”, you obviously have very little, if any, clue about the infrastructure needed to support your grandiose schemes.

Let me ask you this: How do you receive your Internet-based TV? Via some type of telecommunication provider, right? Or, if you “glom” it at some sort of “free” Internet cafe, or off your neighbor, don’t they have to get their pipe via a telecom company? Infrastructure costs money, my boy…the cable technician, the phone company guy, you know, he kinda expects to get paid for his work! And, how about all the servers needed in data centers to provide all this high bandwidth? They cost money too!

Contrary to what you Left Coast liberals think, things cost money…things like food, rent, clothes…I bet you get paid for your “writings”, correct? If Reuters decided to eliminate advertising, how are they going to pay you? And, in turn, how are you going to buy food?

Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, son.

Posted by Mike91163 | Report as abusive