Will live commercials slow your FFWD finger? - VIDEOS
One of the many problems facing broadcasters as we move into the future is the proliferation of DVRs and their fantastic ability to allow people to blow right through all of those bill paying commercials. In the continuing effort to thwart quick fingered viewers, networks are turning to live commercials.
The idea being that the live commercial offers something different enough that it will be worth your time, while your 300th viewing of Cisco welcoming you to the human network no longer even registers. The New York Times has a good article on how this latest incarnation of what is a very old idea is being implemented. They talk about spots that Kimmel and Leno have done and also give a peak at Spike's plans for a live three-minute game show that would run during commercial breaks.
As I said, it is a very classic television idea. Have a look at this old spot with John Cameron Swayze and a Timex watch that is strapped to an arrow and fired through a pane of glass, into a tank of water.
They just don't make 'em like that anymore, but they're trying. To get an idea of what the latest attempts look like, here are Jay and John, for Dockers. Click the little thumbnail of Jay on the top right to get NBC's funky player to give up the spot.
It lacks the nostalgic charm of the Timex ad, but I can see how it would work for the advertisers. People would be much less likely to skip that ad, as opposed to the standard Dockers commercial.
There is another angle in the fight against fast forward that I find more interesting though. If you are a regular watcher of BBC America, the phrase "stay tuned during the break" should be a familiar one. For those of you that don't follow any of their shows, many of them contain short extras in the middle of the commercial breaks. They are like DVD extras, short interviews with the actors. It doesn't ensure that you are going to watch all of the commercials, but as you jockey for position so you can hear what Eve Myles has to say about the scene you just watched, you're bound to stumble over a couple more of the commercials.
I don't know if any of that is going to be the answer for how to deal with advertising in our television watching future. But if nothing else, at least the advertisers and networks are trying something different.