TV commercials might just get me to stop watching

Estimated read time: 2 minutes


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I remember years ago – before iPhones and DVRs, which seems so long ago – when we watched a TV show. The plot was thickening. We were invested in the characters and the storyline. We were watching intently. There was no second screen. Just a first one.

And then the commercial break came on as the story was developing. We couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. The commercials interrupted, came on and made us wait. And we did. We wanted to see what would happen next. We just watched and waited.

Things have changed….

For years, I watched just about anything time-delayed through my satellite provider’s DVR service. Then one day, I realize how much that service was costing me and I decided to cut it.

We now watch the Big Four networks and a few others over an HD antenna. The stream actually looks clearer to me than satellite. It works well for the most part except that we can’t watch shows time-delayed.

When a commercial comes on, we have to wait. Except we don’t. We get out our phones, iPads or laptops and start fiddling online. We check in what’s new on Facebook or Twitter, maybe read some blogs. And depending on what we find online we don’t even hear the show come back on.

The super compelling storyline was replaced by another storyline or piece of content that now has earned our attention. Everything competes for our attention.

Sometimes, our attention returns to the show on TV. Sometimes, our attention remains online. And sometimes we are ready to pay attention again to what’s on TV when the next commercial starts. As you can see it can be a race for attention. TV commercials are a bit like interrupting the race you are currently winning. And now you are losing.

I know I know, I should get a DVR. 🙂