Tivo or not Tivo?


Normally, movie/TV clips shown on the internet are pre-edited of commercials. So I was surprised when I was watching a clip from the Daily Show online today, and noticed that the segment was ending, and Jon Stewart was announcing that they would be “right back,” but the Quicktime slider showed that the video was only halfway done.

Was I about to watch TV commercials on my computer? Suddenly, I heard a little cartoon popping noise, and a green time-slider appeared over the video. Tivo to the rescue!

If you’ve never heard of Tivo, it’s a TV recording device that lets you record shows when you are not home, and pause live TV, among other features. And here was a person who had used Tivo to record the Daily Show, then just ripped it to his (or her) computer in order to post it to the internet, and got past the commercials by fast forwarding. Low tech indeed, but completely acceptable. In fact, it almost felt more intimate and human.

My friend Ang in DC has Tivo, and when I was visiting him, we watched dozens of prerecorded movies and TV shows. by using the fast forwarding feature, we could watch roughly three shows in an hour instead of two. One evening we saw that a new episode of Arrested Development was just about to start. We tuned in, and when the commercials came on, we were both quite annoyed when the fast forward feature didn’t work, because it was live TV. It was a moment when we both realized how desensitized people are to commercials, and how annoying they would be if you hadn’t already been trained to accept them as part of your media experience.

I turned to Ang and said, “Man, live TV really sucks.”

“Yep,” he said. And then we sat there and watched commercials.

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