Are PVRs killing commercial television?

Are we becoming a nation of time-shifters and ad-skippers, destroying the commercial TV business model? Tech-savvy trendsetters say yes, but the majority of Australian homes with Personal Video Recorders still watch live television.

While some Australian homes have abandoned free-to-air television completely, the majority of us still watch at least some live or almost-live broadcasts each week. Sport is one of the biggest drawcards, although it's still tempting to watch the footy on a slight delay using a Personal Video Recorder. If you start watching an AFL match at quarter time and fast-forward the ad breaks, which are often inappropriate for young children, you should catch up to the live broadcast sometime in the last quarter.

The true power of a PVR is the ability to automatically record your favourite shows each week, letting you dictate your own TV schedule. Unfortunately these "Season Pass" features are so unreliable in most Australian PVRs that they can't be trusted. Its network scheduling bastardry which renders them so ineffective, a deliberate campaign by the networks to "encourage" people to watch live TV and sit through the ad breaks. Their efforts seem to be working judging from the ratings figures and advertising revenues.

In theory PVRs take the power away from network programmers, but in practice the networks still seem to rule our lounge rooms with an iron fist.

Time-shift in play

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