Super Skip::DVRs Are MVPs for Super Bowl Watchers

    by Mark Glaser
    February 9, 2006

    i-4fa238e137246e7cd39368f1e099f9a6-TiVo logo.JPG
    Everything is big about the Super Bowl. Advertisements cost $2.6 million for 30 seconds. The average audience was estimated at 90.7 million viewers. And a few bad calls by the referees were magnified to epic proportions.

    While network executives are clinging to the idea that they are still in charge of what you watch and when you watch it, they are losing their grip. Even the Super Bowl — the game to end all games, the Big Enchilada, the one where we all gather around our sets simultaneously in festive guacamole-eating splendor — has lost its appeal as a pre-programmed TV show.

    Case in point: I was invited to two different Super Bowl parties and both of them were going to be shown later on TiVo or a DVR (digital video recorder). While the point of time-shifting is usually to skip the commercials, in this case, the idea was to be able to watch the good commercials (and controversial football plays) over and over. Plus, being on the West Coast, we’d rather enjoy the nice Sunday afternoon outside, and watch the game at night later.


    Of course, there are downsides to TiVo’ing the game. No one in the group can find out what happened ahead of time and ruin the ending for the rest of us. Any mistake in the recording could also ruin it — if we record the wrong channel or don’t record long enough, for instance. Or maybe a lightning strike could erase our TiVo’s memory. (You think this way when you’re a big football fan and not as much a fan of technology…)

    Then, as you start watching the opening ceremonies, the real parlor game begins. Some people shout out to skip over all the past Super Bowl MVPs being presented. Others want to skip the lengthy analysis by the announcers. Eventually it’s time to weed out the bad commercials that repeat. And if someone misses a good commercial or there’s talking over the beginning of a commercial, you can just replay it.

    I haven’t seen hard numbers, but my guess is that Super Bowl XL was the most TiVo’ed and DVR’ed Super Bowl in history. And that’s a good thing, because we could enjoy the game — and the commercials — at our own pace, and watch what we want when we want to. Ironically, Tivo, which is known for its ability to skip commercials, actually touted which commercials were watched the most by TiVo viewers of the game.


    Now comes confession time. Though I have watched many TiVo’ed shows and games at the homes of friends, I don’t have TiVo myself. That is about to change. But my choices in the DVR field were interesting. I could buy a TiVo machine for about $249 and a $150 rebate, with the service costing $12.95 per month or an additional lifetime subscription for $299. Figuring with the rebate, it would be $400 for the lieftime deal. But I could also order a comparable DVR through my cable company, RCN, for $14.95 installation and just $8 per month.

    I decided to go for the RCN deal, because $8 per month just sounds so cheap. But am I getting a better deal? I’ll basically be paying about $100 per year for the box and service, which means it would take four years to match the upfront cost of the TiVo lifetime subscription. So TiVo is cheaper if I subscribe for more than four years, but more expensive if it’s less. With electronics devices always becoming obsolete in no time, I’d guess the cable option makes more sense. I can always upgrade to the latest device, as long as RCN keeps them coming.

    What’s your experience with TiVo or DVRs, and which deal do you think is better? And how did you watch the Super Bowl this year (if you did indeed watch it)? Are we losing something culturally by time-shifting en masse?

    • David Winsby

      About 5 years ago, Dish Network sold their first DVR, a 501 model I think, for $329, but with no monthly fee. It was still early for DVR’s, and TiVo’s were no cheaper and no rebates, plus I wanted a satellite receiver, not another extra box. Satellite’s picture quality puts cable to shame, and they aren’t jerks to do business with. I had been with Dish for more than a year when I bought the DVR. I’ve never regretted a thing. You can sign up for Dish Network now and get 2 DVR’s free with monthly fee(s) with free installation.

      I got the best deal I could at the time. I can’t schedule a whole season of only new episodes of one series with no human interface, but so what? I can set my DVR to record the same time slot weekly or daily, and I can look ahead to see when the Grammy’s will pre-empt my show.

      I’ll never watch TV without a DVR again. I time shift almost everything. Before I watch something I’ve already recorded, I check the Dish guide for a program I might want to watch later. I hate having to watch live and wait for commercials to end so I can get back to the show.

      The only benefit to watching live is that as I channel surf during commercials, I’ll occasionally come across a program I find interesting that I would not have picked from the program description. I’ll set it to record – either the rest of the show or the complete show on all those channels that repeat their schedules all night (like the Discovery family of channels) or for movies, I can often use the West Coast feed.

      I didn’t watch the Super Bowl because I learned almost 30 years ago that Super Bowls are often one of the most boring games of the year. I last watched a Super Bowl the last time the Rams won. I wasn’t interested enough to watch the one they lost 2 years later. You really need a party to make the games worth watching. Beer helps. If you need something to talk about at work the next day, The Onion is almost always good for a laugh, and New Scientist Magazine can’t be beat for items of interest.

    • David Brugger

      Why buy a service when you can buy a PVR (personal viseo recorder) and not pay a monthly fee to anyone, and not have what you do with it tracked?
      Given the release of archived personal information, voluntarily or not, why provide marketers or others (corporations, governments, thiefs) with your personal TV viewing choices?

    • Virginia Morton

      Or you could install tvo-like receivers in your pc and skip the monthly fee altogether.

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