/ Technology

Do you record TV just to skip the ads?

I haven’t watched a TV advert in ages. It’s terrific because I loathe them and I’ll use every trick in the book to avoid them. Do you exercise your PVR just as much as me?

TV ads used to annoy me by breaking up my TV viewing, irritate me by wasting precious minutes of my life and bore me rigid with their repetition. But once I got a PVR it released me from their hold.

I have a three-pronged strategy to defeat them.

My three-pronged strategy to avoid TV ads

One: I rarely watch live TV – I record virtually everything that I think I may want to watch, particularly if it’s on a commercial channel. Not only can I then watch a programme when it suits me best, but when playing it back I can simply jump the ad breaks with two presses of the skip button every time they rear their ugly heads – excellent!

Two: If something takes me by surprise when I’m scanning through the TV listings to see what’s on that evening I’ll still start recording it. Why? So I can start watching it 15 minutes in and then skip through the ad breaks as they occur, slowly catching up with the ‘live’ programme generally around the time it’s finishing. This is known as ‘chase play’ – it uses a PVR’s ability to start playing a programme before it has finished recording and it’s a truly wonderful thing.

Three: This third scenario is most tricky and, for me, it usually occurs when watching live sport on a commercial channel, such as football coverage on ITV or, most recently, the Paralympics on Channel 4. I don’t want to employ my ‘chase play’ tactic because I really do want to watch the action live, not a few minutes after it’s actually happened.

So when the ad breaks come on I deploy my final weapon… go and make a cup of tea or take a loo break! That sorts the three-minute interludes nicely.

Does anyone else use a similar strategy to avoid TV ads? Have you got any further tips that you can tell me about? I’d love to hear from you if I’m missing a trick.

Comments
Member

I see you’re a man after my own heart, if an ad break comes on during something I’m watching, I turn over although it can be annoying if the next 10 programmes I decide to watch all seem to be on an ad break at the same time. I’ll just end up missing all of them. I love it when I can fast forward thru them.

Its also nice coming in 20 mins after a programme has started knowing I can skip the ads and end up watching the end of the programme “live”, any earlier in an “hour” long programme and I’ll catch up too soon 🙁

Member
par ailleurs says:
13 September 2012

Yep! Agree 100% here. My wife and I now watch no commercial TV at all unless it’s been recorded or by using catch-up. The even sadder thing is that we also watch a few BBC programmes the same way. Some 1 hour documentary, house purchase/renovation progs especially are really 40 mins of interesting TV padded out to 1 hour. ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ is really addictive but some of the repetition is too much. Using the PVR makes it much more enjoyable.
I know that we’re in the majority in our circle of friends too so where does this leave commercial programming? It wouldn’t exist without advertising revenue. I wonder if the people who leave it switched on actually take much information in.
I’m also exactly the same with radio. Radio 3 does the job most of the time for me with a bit of R4. I’m not averse to Classic fm at times but I must be within range of the remote control to mute the ads.
I have been called a cultural snob and perhaps I am, but I do know that even if I’m in a minority here it’s still quite a sizeable one. I’ll be intrigued to see other posts on this subject.

Member

Yeah, I do all that, plus fast play through Homes under the Hammer, they’re mostly repeats anyway !
That said, I can easily get home from work at the weekend and realise I haven’t had the telly on all week anyway.
So, my advice is to you is to switch it off and do something.

Member
par ailleurs says:
13 September 2012

Ooh matron! I don’t watch that much anyway but being retired ( I hope you’re not too jealous) I can catch the occasional programme while having a break from gardening, playing my guitar, looking after the grandchildren etc etc. Get the (fast-forwarded) picture?

Member

The mute button is constantly used by myself and my wife when the adverts come on! My wife hates them even more than me and says she would gladly pay a licence fee just to get rid of them!! I remember when we used to have quite good entertaining adverts but now they are ALL sooooo annoying and loud!!

Member

Have you seen the Bruce Willis ad for Sky that’s running at the moment, that’s quite funny.

Member

Because of my shift patterns I rarely get to watch any TV live. First call is to record it on the PVR with a fallback of iPlayer for any BBC programmes. I try to record anything on BBC 1 or 2 as they come without a DOG but BBC 4 is better on iPlayer; smaller DOG.

Recording programmes is not only useful for fast forwarding through the adverts but also the extensive pre-ambles, re-caps and “coming up next” rubbish that producers think we can’t live without.

Member

I managed to get this just right with the Olympics opening ceremony. I recorded it and began watching it about an hour later. When the athletes’ parade began I hit the fast-forward button and I caught up with the live action in time to see the flame being lit.

Member

Absolutely!.. I’m with Sky due to poor reception out here in Boston Lincs and I love my Sky+ box. It seems no matter the channel – BBC’s included they all have a load of adverts. I have also noticed that many programs on commercial channels start / finish back to back then there is an advert 5 mins into the next program – by then your supposed to be hooked watching the next show – happens a lot in daytime TV. Also those bloody annoying “sponsored by” adverts, as if the two 7 minute ad breaks in a 30 minute slot isn’t enough! I find it insulting.

Does anyone find this familiar… Watch a 7 minute advert of drivel, watch ‘sponsored by’ ad drivel, watch program credits followed by a tedious 10 minutes of roundup of what is going to happen in the next 5-10 minutes, 5-10 minutes of actual program, another 7 minute ad break followed by ‘sponsored by’ ad etc etc etc. If you are watching a half hour program the viewer is probably watching about 17 minutes of program and 20 odd minutes of ads. Its ridiculous if you think about it. No wonder kids never watch TV and watch I-player.
Commercial TV has always been commercial TV though – more channel competition, more lower priced ads to pay the bills but the BBC should be ashamed of themselves. I rarely watch anything on there any more – mostly mindless fly on the wall drivel. I was really naffed off last week, being an F1 fan that the good old Beeb hadn’t even paid so we could watch the full Italian GP from start to finish – they put on highlights :-(.
About the only good thing on the BBC anymore is 6 music. I would love to not have a TV tax (because thats what it is) and just pay for what I want. Does Netflix etc have adverts??

Member
susie D says:
14 September 2012

Have to agree with Mose that one of the best uses of PVR (apart from missing the dreadful ads) is to skip through the repetition in some programmes. My daughter and I love Britain and Irelands Next Top Model (sorry), but before and after every break we have to also endure several minutes of being told what has happened and whats coming up. Do these people think we have the memory of a goldfish, or are they really short of material??

But I have to defend the good old BBC – there is still some great stuff, aimed at people with a brain; it must be good because a lot of it then ends up on other repeat channels! However, when it comes to Radio, apart from 4 & 6 the rest is just drivel.

Grumpy old woman signing off….

Member

Ah the good old BBC, I guess you’ve never watched Watchdog or Match of the day. One day I’ll time how many minutes are wasted with them recapping what’s coming up and previously covered. although not any time soon . I just wish Sky would go faster than x30 sometimes.

Member
Anthony says:
14 September 2012

The real issue is – has commercial television had it’s day in an era when virtually everybody skips or otherwise ignores the adverts?
Would people be willing to pay per view instead and be rid of the adverts altogether? It’s not as though the TV adverts are the all-powerful voice of the supplier they used to be.

Member

Have I missed it or has it been said? The catch up service on Virgin is great. They have programmes from the 5 terrestrial channels admittedly not all and none of the commercial programmes feature ads. We watch al commercial channels this way saves recording and for the ones that are not on this service we drink lots of tea.

Member

Yes, your lucky, I can’t get Tivo where I live, better and cheaper than sky – you get a better catchup service and another channel to record simultaneously to sky.

Member

I agree Peter – The Virgin system is excellent and allows catch up and skip and pause – So I can watch what I want when I want.it

Member

Actually, you CAN get TiVo wherever you live – and for no subscription charge. It’s the revived version of the original TiVo service, called Alt Epg (altepg.co.uk). I would never pay the Virgin charge; far too high considering what altepg offers by comparison.

I couldn’t live without any of our three TiVo systems, the best pvr system I have experienced by miles.

Member

I do exactly the same. I wouldn’t mind so much if the adverts were even slightly entertaining – years ago I seem to remember many were, but not any more. The only drawback of chase-play is that it is encouraging the number of ‘sponsored programmes’ which strive to ensure that you see their advert even if you chase-play! What I fear next is sponsorship WITHIN the programmes, that is, as part of the actual storyline. That would be impossible to avoid.
What I’d really like to see is some enterprising company producing a PVR that automatically deletes all adverts. I believe companies like SKY may do this, but you have to pay for them!

Member

I know that not everyone can do this, but one of the best things I have acquired recently is a Virgin Tivo box. I can do the chase game without having to record as long as the TV is on the correct channel which is great. On commercial channels I always go to ‘on-demand’ which removes the ads for me. I think on digital channels they make sure that adverts are shown at the same time so I change to a non-commercial for 4 mins which seems to be just about right.

Member
Roger Gradeless says:
14 September 2012

I assume that as a result of this piece by David Holes Which? will no longer be advertising on television.

I prefer to have commercial breaks as it allows me to go to the toilet, make a drink etc without missing anything.

Member

Yes I totally agree, why has Ofcom artistic Smarties allowed the increase in the number of adverts and their length? Adverts used to be around 3 min now they seem to be 5 min. Not all channels are the same, the worst seems to be ITV 3 which is now totally unwatchable live. As a pensioner I watch a lot of TV and because I have come to hate the advert so much I now bought two PVR’s; A Humax and a Sagem. This means I have the potential to record four programs at the same time and rarely watch live TV. There will come a time when advertisers realise that no one watches adverts any more and will cease to fund commercial television. It seems to me that the commercial TV companies are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
The Sagem has one nice feature, if I am watching a live commercial station and an advert starts, I can pause live TV, and the Sagem shows the deferred time, so I wait until it shows 5 min and then press the stop button and I get live TV again having missed the adverts.

Member

“Mose” should consider dumping Sky & getting a “freesat+” box.
It simply takes the 2 coax leads currently going into your Sky+ box, & you avoid subscriptions to Murdoch. (Dish needs no adjustment.)
A typical Humax HDR will cost less than a years Sky+ subscription.
You get more channels than a terrestial aerial provides

Member

It was cheaper to get sky mate. I had no dish, no ariel, no pvr so it was cheaper to take sky’s half price 12 month subscription, get the dish installed, pvr than get an independent in to install stuff. In the future I may do what your saying.

Member
susie D says:
14 September 2012

I understand that some of the TV broadcasters are looking at ways to target advertising to households, I suppose a bit like Google do. They can look at your veiwing habits and make decisions about the sort of adverts you might respond to – e.g. watch a lot of kids TV maybe McDonalds adverts or toy shops etc. I wonder if we would watch more ads if they were relevant.

Member

Why don’t the commercial channels charge twice as much for the adverts? (Same amount of stoppages as now) Two minuets would not be so bad and it’s possible more people would watch the break.
I agree, ITV 3 is almost unwatchable and never start on time, a channel with no excuse, no late news etc.
Most of the best programs, for me, are on the BBC

Member

Like Dave, I’ve been avoiding adverts using the methods described. I began doing so years ago using a Panasonic recorder that had a 30 sec skip function – I wish Sky+ had this. It was a problem having to wait until the recording had finished but I still preferred this to watching endless mindless ads.

Unlike Dave, I also prefer to watch delayed sports. This can be a problem though when friends phone or when using social networks. Making comments on Facebook about test match cricket having forgotton I’m 2 hours behind can be awkward!

I find now I get frustrated if I try to watch live history or other similar programmes. The pattern is so slow. 8 minutes of viewing, 5 minutes of adverts, followed by a 2 minute review of the first 8 minutes, presumably because they think you will have forgotten during the ads.

Surely there is a downside for the advertisers if people start to hate their ads. Even using the above methods I still catch glimpse of ads and find myself very hostile toward that particular company.

Member

I’m in two minds about this – I think we’re really lucky in the UK with our ads. They’re often produced to a very high standard, unlike some ‘shouty’ ads in America and Australia. So, I do like to see some ads. Ours of course are brilliant, and should be set to record, not skip 😉 http://youtu.be/8GGBVehqNcY

However, breaks can be too long and too often. I couldn’t properly get into the Paralympics due to the constant ad breaks, and I was determined to watch it live. Otherwise I use Dave’s ‘chase play’ technique to skip through the ads and catching up with the live programme. My housemate is so averse to ads that he will change channels immediately to another program, get engrossed in that, then change again when new ads come on. I don’t think he watches one show to the end.

Member

Some pvr remotes let you program how much you skip. I’ve set mine for 4 minutes which is the gap commercial tv companies are allowed to use for commercials. Perfect for missing them all.

Member
Grahame says:
14 September 2012

I simply ONLY watch what’s on BBC Iplayer! No Ads, No TV licence! Plus I only watch what I want to watch on Lovefilm or Netflix…………….works for me………..Also as it happens I am a ‘TV Snob’ so I don’t watch ITV, Channel 4 or 5 ha ha!

Member
KevinO says:
15 September 2012

No TV License? If you have a TV, PC or radio in your house, able to pick up Any live or recorded programmes, you will need a license.
The license fee pays for Iplayer amongst many other things.
Not that I like paying it mind you!

Member

Actually, you don’t need a licence for pre-recorded shows – you only need a licence if you are using BBC iPlayer to watch or record live broadcast television.

Member
bettys says:
14 September 2012

I simply switch over to another channel when the adverts come on, although that does mean I often don’t switch back. I mutli-task a bit too, so I also just turn the sound off and read a magazine.

Member

I actually enjoy a lot of the ads and the break gives you time to talk to your family, make a phone call etc.

Sorry I,m such a sad case.

Member

I download all my tv programs to my computer and watch them on my TV with no annoying adverts whatsoever and my new Samsung TV has a super feature which allows you to cancel the very irritating raised volume that TV company’s but out , works BRILLENT !! all TV;s should have this.

Member

I frequently use the PiP (Picture in Picture) feature to switch to another channel and then swap back when the ads have finished. I’l also go to a Beeb channel and fire up Teletext. The mute button is also a favourite, especially with the gocompare adverts; I’ll never use gocompare! I’ve just used the ITV Player for the first time. It appears that you can’t fastforward the initial adverts but if you’re careful you can get past the rest.

Member
d.sell says:
16 September 2012

I have a PVR(HUmax) where is the skip button for adverts?

Member

On mine it’s the ‘next track’ button (at least that’s what it would do on a cd player). Skips forward 2 minutes by default (I think). Invaluable. Similarly, the ‘previous track’ button skips backwards

Member

On my Humax remote RM-F01, it’s the button below the record button with the double arrow head. You can program it to skip 4 minutes forward which is the length of commercial breaks. Works a treat, can’t remember the last time I saw an advert.

Member

Just after 6:00 in the morning I’m on the sky app on iPad. I have my favourite channels saved. Whizz straight through to 19:00 in the evening and scan all the listings for the evening. Read anything that takes my fancy and if good hit the record link with series if appropriate. That’s it. I never watch live television. It will become a thing of he past. I will never let broadcasters tell me to watch something when they want me to watch it. I can look at the programme lengths and chop off minutes skipping adverts. As I approach them I stop the recording and use user defined to advance 4 minutes avoiding them completely. I do sometimes wonder if I am actually missing something I would be interested in.

Member
LesMead says:
17 September 2012

Yes, you are a mirror image of my watching habits. My PVR usually has chapter points where the commercials are positioned, so it’s dead easy to skip. Having seen TV in the most of the world, I have no problem paying the License fee, keep up the good work BBC.

Member

I can see the attraction of the iplayer and catchup tv if you don’t have a pvr but for me the picture quality just isn’t good enough. Compare HD pictures and SD pictures on a good tv and HD pictures are stunning. To my mind the picture definition on the iplayer, even with a fast broadband connection, is below SD picture quality. It’s a last resort for me.

Member

Once in a while it’s nice to just draw the curtains across the TV screen, put on some intermission music and enjoy a pause as my wife walks round the room with a tray of Kia-Ora and Butterkist popcorn. Then when you hear the faint strains of Pearl & Dean’s signature tune you can carry on where you left off. Dah-der/dah-der/dah-der/dah-der- – dah-dah-dah // Dah-der/dah-der/dah-der/dah-der — Duh.

Member

We seldom, if ever watch live TV. Anything of interest is recorded on PVR, one button push saves the whole series of programmes. Then play back if and when we choose to watch. That way not only can we skip any adverts and trailers, we can also FF the football and other sports (great for missing all the Olympics). This is also usefull for making the tea and re-runs after falling asleep. If you like to go this route get a decent recorder, cheap and nasty is not the way to go. At the moment we have only DTT recorder, but thinking of getting a satellite one as well so we can record and view more than two progammes at once.

Member

One of my absolute loves is a PVR (a Panasonic actually) which provides a “x1.3” playback speed (also during catch-up). It doesn’t make the voices mickey-mouse – just speeds up those ghastly slow-talking presenters on so many programmes. 60 minutes compressed into 46 minutes. A dream!

Member

Two phrases set me leaping for the PVR remote –

“After the break…”

“Coming up…”

Including the ads, I probably save about 20 minutes of a 1 hour program.

Member
David c says:
5 October 2012

There seems to be a trend here……….we all think we can live without ads, course we can but where would the money come from to buy programs for us to record (devil’s advocate).
I lived in Germany some years ago and they used 5 minutes every hour on the hour giving time for many things!

Member
Tim says:
4 August 2013

This is an old subject and no one will likely read what I write, but still, commercials…make me so, angry. I have 3 pet peeves in my life, the first and least annoying is the driving habits and manners of people (who can be rude and ignorant), the second is movie theatre etiquette, but the most annoying thing in the world is being constantly attacked and bombarded by advertisements.

I have been a long time complainer of T.V ads, and have and do watch a ton of television in my life. With a cable bill that’s expensive enough, I find it abhorrent that I should be forced to watch anything over 10% saturation of commercials. So you can imagine my frustration when I find out that some shows are nigh on 50% commercial saturation, and most are 25%-33%. People say that there would be no television without commercials, well I say, that’d be just fine. It’s not like the stations or distributors don’t get greedy, trim the fat (always quality), sellout, or have the same problem that the rest of capitalism has, too many fingers in the cookie jar. The consequence of this is always the product quality, making the REAL shame: the quality of television based around a format that’s specifically designed to house commercials, so you’ll always be stuck with the same old predictable crap with few exceptions. I’m not just talking about having to endure the 5 minutes of commercials to find out what happens in the end of the story you’ve been watching for an hour, I’m talking about the story itself being augmented or created specifically to ‘hook’ you before and after every commercial. Meanwhile, all the creative juice that should be going into entertainment instead go towards ads.

I avoid ads at all costs, I have forever black listed Youtube.com for forcing me to watch advertisements, I tape T.V and usually only watch it live if it’s a commercial free channel, and when certain ads are particularly irritating, I boycott the product. Here are some other things I do or have noticed:
1: Tape shows, have different priorities of shows taped and save some for times when there’s nothing to watch, if you’re watching live television, have a HOME BASE (channel that doesn’t have commercials) to always retreat to when commercials attack you, this all helps if you have a DVR. Let’s say you don’t like the show at HOME BASE, well, try to juggle some other shows (especially if you find a few good ones that go to commercial at different times) and skip between them and eventually you’ll get your commercial timing down so that you don’t miss much when you skip back. But really, it’s still better to just tape shows and FF through the crap.
2: Eventually you’ll be able to decipher the anti-climatic wind-down of a show before commercial, use this time to go to your HOME BASE, or back up channels. “We’ll be right back” or “stay tuned” literally means “you have 3 seconds to find something new to watch for 5 minutes.”
3: T.V ads are specifically designed to manipulate you, and they will do ANYTHING to get their point across, if you’re a young person, just remember that it’s not real, they are lying to alter your perception of reality to one that’s more conducive to being a chronic consumer. Reading books and spending some alone time with the T.V off thinking or using your imagination can help to counter the affects of advertisements on your psyche.
4: Avoid watching movies on movie channels that have commercials on them. If you don’t, then try to find the movie channels that don’t increase the rate of commercials with the rising action of the movie. They give you the first half hour of the movie for free to hook you in, then the last half hour of the movie is stretched to an hour long and never has more than 7-8 minutes without a commercial. Besides, some movies are ruined by commercials, and all are less intense, and less enjoyable.
5: Some stations and shows are getting wise to people like me, so shows like Jeopardy can have 1 minutes between double jeopardy and final jeopardy, or 5-6 minutes, so it’s better to tape shows like this instead of trying to miss the commercials by flipping channels. Another example of how sneaky commercials are, is in the late-night talk shows, specifically The Tonight’s Show, and The Late show (the one with David Letterman), these channels both go to commercials around the exact same time, so skipping between them is really tough and often pointless. Try to tape these, too. If you go to bed before they’re done taping, watch them a day behind. Or try pausing for 15 minutes and then FF through the commercials.
6: Listen to CD’s or attach your music listening device into your Car radio system so you don’t have to listen to awful car ads.

Member

We’ve been doing this for years. Don’t watch what you don’t like, record what you like and fast-forward through the bits you don’t want to see. Easy.

In other words, learn to live with the technology – don’t fight it and don’t get in a twist about it.