/ 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.


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 🙁

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.


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.

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?


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!!


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


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.


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.


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??