Sorry, TiVo -- It's Not You, It's Me
TiVo, you've been a dear friend to me since you came into my life in 2007. But I think it's time for a break, and I don't think we'll ever get back together again.
I'm a huge fan of television. Whether it's cable or network programming, reality or scripted shows, I can't get enough. I've always felt TiVo was invented for people like me. When my family finally got one, I was quick to monopolize it, recording multiple shows a night, often at the same time. That was my baby, and everyone in the house knew it. Nothing could be recorded or erased without my permission. Here's a sample dialogue:
Family: Can we record "Dancing With the Stars" tonight?
Me: What time is it on?
Family: It's on from 8 to 10.
Me: Two hours? Sorry -- "Chuck," "House" and "How I Met Your Mother" are all on then. Maybe another time.
End of discussion.
I know, I'm a monster, but this is just to show how much I rely on TiVo. And I'm not the only one. During the 2011 to 2012 season, many shows nearly doubled the size of their original audience when DVR viewing was added to their ratings totals. "Modern Family" was the most recorded show, with an average of nearly five million people watching the program on their DVRs each week within seven days of its original airing according to Zap2It. "Big Bang Theory," "New Girl," "Glee," and "CSI" were also on the list of most recorded shows, while NBC's "Grimm" received the largest ratings bump from DVR, with an average increase of about 75 percent on its live audience.
Those numbers are a tremendous increase from four years ago, when just one show, "American Idol," averaged more than two million viewers a week via DVR. The rise of DVRs has already led to an adaptation of the TV ratings system, but as their relevance continues to grow, some networks want them factored into the equation even more.
The amount advertisers pay networks for airtime depends on the number of people who watch a show live, plus those who watch it on their DVR within three days of its first airing. However, often millions more viewers watch programs on their DVR more than seven days after their first air date. NBC, the lowest rated of the big four networks, is one of the companies that wants the ratings system changed again to reflect these other viewers -- and reflect how deeply the devices have insinuated their way into modern TV viewing habits.
But this article isn't about the networks: it's about viewers like you and me. I've already demonstrated my unhealthy reliance on my TiVo and I've told you that it's now broken -- but I'm not fixing it.
How could I do this? A new TV season is about to start, and this is the time of year that my TiVo would normally be overrun with programs from CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox. No, I'm not giving up on TV. Never. No, I'm not getting a Hulu subscription and watching all my programs on the computer.
Instead, I decided I'm turning back the clock and am going to start watching my shows live as they air.
I appreciate all the things TiVo did for me. I set it up once at the beginning of every TV season to record all my favorite shows, and I never thought about it again. There was no worrying about whether I'll be home by a certain time, no risking that I'd forget tonight is the night new episodes of "Castle" return after that uncalled-for and random three-week hiatus. None of that.
Living without TiVo, though, over the past few weeks has taught me why I really love TV, and the reason I've watched over the past five years with my DVR is not at all the reason I began watching in the first place.
I admit, I don't watch many shows during the summer, so I didn't think twice when TiVo went out -- that is, until I realized the HBO show "The Newsroom" wouldn't be recording. I immediately panicked, wondering what I was going to do without a safety net. Sure, I could watch it on HBO Go on the Xbox, but that service has always given me trouble.
It was then I decided I'd just make sure I was free on Sunday night at 10 so I could watch it live. When Sunday came around, a funny thing happened -- I found myself looking forward to watching the show all day long, and when 10 p.m. finally came around, it was glorious. I parked myself in front of the TV at 9:57 p.m. with a sandwich and a drink and waited eagerly for The Newsroom to come on -- and maybe it was completely mental, but I enjoyed it more than any hour of TV I've watched in a long time.
That experience immediately brought me back to seventh grade, when the workload actually began to get tough and I got huge amounts of homework. But I always had an extra pep in my step on Tuesdays because I knew that night I would watch a new episode of "Smallville." Back then, TV was more than a distraction from life -- it put me and my entire family on a routine. We watched shows like "Frasier" and "Friends" together and there was no TiVo to record our shows if we weren't in front of the TV at a certain time. That meant homework had to be done, dinner made and eaten, and everything else could wait, because there was no way we weren't going to all be sitting around the TV at 8 p.m. watching our favorite shows together.
Maybe I'm insane, but I miss looking forward to my favorite shows every night. I miss being on a routine, and though it's probably a lot more to do with me being lazy than anything else, I'm blaming TiVo. It has made me lax. It has transformed my TV shows from a nightly ritual that helped propel me through the monotony of daily life and structure my schedule, into something I now spend my Saturday afternoons rushing through to catch up in time for the next week.
Well, guess what, TiVo? We're done. The break is permanent. Maybe it has been too long, maybe I don't know how to live without you, maybe I'll run back, but now I'm feeling pretty good about a life without you. I've marked my calendar with the premiere dates of my favorite shows -- and I can't wait.
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Categories: Media Mind