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August 30, 2015

Yes, I am afflicted with "TiVo guilt"

by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 2nd 2008 5:07PM
TivoIt was only a matter of time. What was once the ultimate convenience for TV fans has now been labeled as an affliction. Brad Berens of iMedia, a company that analyzes the way advances in media impact people's lives, had identified the responsibility we feel when we TiVo or DVR a show or series and then don't get around to watching it in a timely fashion as "TiVo guilt."

I can't disagree. I don't know about you, but I'm always checking my DVR list to see what's stacked up that I still have to watch. It's not that I feel like I have to watch these shows -- after all I recorded them because I want to see them -- but there is a burden attached.

According to Berens, what I'm experiencing is called "opportunity costs," and my TiVo viewing has become -- believe it or not -- homework!

Good grief, Charlie Brown, is that what it's come to? I don't doubt that some people legitimately feels weighed down by the commitments they've made to record the entire season of something only to find they don't have the time to keep up with the episodes. It happens. I get it. I have a Warner Brothers documentary that American Masters aired on PBS back in September sitting on one DVR in the living room -- which I will get around to watching -- and I've only just caught up with about four weeks worth of Heroes. Still, that's entertainment, not homework. Really. I love my TV, even the shows that are piled up on my queue.

Also, there's a flipside of TiVo guilt that Berens has overlooked. I call it "TiVo catharsis." It's that great feeling you get when you've caught up with your viewing and cleaned out your DVR list. When you've watched those shows and can delete them, the little gauge showing how much more space is available on your DVR climbs, that -- my friends -- is a feeling of real accomplishment!

So, while the anti-TV crowd gives you permission to delete those shows you haven't gotten around to watching, I say delete if you must, but if you can take a single day over the holidays, try TiVo catharsis instead and clean out your DVR by watching those shows you taped!

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I saw a comedian do a bit about TiVo "homework" two years ago, and it's been in the repertoire ever since! (You hack! :))

December 03 2008 at 10:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott K.

Tivo guilt? Not for me. No burden to watch it all either. If I really want to prevent too much from building up too many unwatched shows, I limit how much it will save.

If I know I won't get to it right away (I only have time for a select number of shows that my wife doesn't want to watch), I transfer to my computer.

Or I delete it. I've deleted season passes for a number of shows I liked because I made the choice to be in control. That's what TiVo gives you: control over your destiny.

Okay, maybe "destiny" is too strong a word.

But in a house with a 3 year old who likes Wonder Pets and the Backyardigans, it gives us choice. Both for her and for us during our limited alone time.

And I have been a TiVo subscriber since the 14 hour Series One (which is still in my garage) and the only complaint I have is that it isn't free (because what wouldn't be better if it was free?).

December 03 2008 at 2:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
b dearing

I'm not sure if guilt is the right word, but there is certainly a burden to all of this.

I find I have had to develop triage skills for managing many new technlogies, including my DVR, my podcasts, and my RSS feeds. Although I record stuff on my DVR, I have started to become ruthless in cutting off things that are not working for me or that I've stopped enjoying. So, while I'm happy to add something new to the list, I'm also aggressively looking for shows I can skip or cancel.

And all of this is a bit of a burden. For instance, I'll often worry that if I skip an evening in front of the TV, I'll get so far behind that I'll never catch up. I'm also aware that DVR's don't count in the ratings if they aren't watched within a few days, so I try to clear out the stuff I really like quickly so that my viewing will count and my favorite shows won't get cancelled.

It's some work to manage all this, but I still prefer always having the stuff that I want nearby when I want it.

December 03 2008 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I suffer from no guilt whatsoever. I save up programs to get me through the summer drought of nothing but reality shows. I love having the TV work at my convenience rather than trying to race through an errand so I can get home in time for a particular show.

December 03 2008 at 8:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe in LA

I don't have a TiVo, but I do understand all of these issues, good and bad, as I try to catch up on the 3,261 podcasts sitting in my iPod....

December 03 2008 at 12:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Isn't Mr. Berens attempting to come up with a way to make himself relevant...TIVO Guilt? Seriously? I feel more guilty for having read this article.

December 02 2008 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ed Bennett

I don't get the TiVo guilt trip, but I've heard friends say the same thing. For me, it's all about having choices when you sit down to watch TV. There's over 500 hours recorded on my system, and I don't expect to watch it all - and I don't care if it gets overwritten with new stuff. (except for a few special shows like Dexter)

I mean, does anyone feel guilty when they go to a public library because they can't read all the books?

December 02 2008 at 10:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I only feel guilty because everything I watch gets canceled early anyway, so I feel like if I don't watch one episode of a show within a week after its premiere, it'll most certainly get canceled.

So that is why I fear for Fringe... I am now 3 new episodes in debt (Recorded, but not watched), and I am a whopping 6 and a half episodes behind on LA Ink :(

I love both of the shows, but because they are both an hour long, it feels like a huge undertaking to get caught up.

Maybe someday. I always find a reason to do something else though.

- http://UncoveredFilms.blogspot.com

December 02 2008 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey Geraci

I can't remember the last time I watched everything recorded on my DVR. Can't the broadcast and cable networks agree to not put anything I'm interested in watching on for 2 weeks so I can get caught up. Doesn't seem like too much to ask? :)

December 02 2008 at 6:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I both suffer from DVR guilt and thrive on DVR Catharsis. Its not an either/or situation. Right now I'm about 7 weeks behind on Pushing Daisies (of which I'll now cherish every moment because of its impending doom), 7 weeks behind on Mad Men, and have the whole season of South Park stacked up that I haven't yet watched. I don't know how the hell that happened. On the flip side I just cleaned off several weeks of House and Heroes and it was delightful.

December 02 2008 at 5:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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