Time-Shifting Costing Networks $600 Million

Advertising Age reports that the 40 percent of viewers who record their shows and time shift have cost the networks an estimated $300 million this year and perhaps as much as
$600 million next year. The ratings industry is working on technologies to allow tracking of viewer habits down to the minute, even the second, to more accurately gauge which commercials are being seen and thus able to be charged for.

One wonders how long the decades-old model of programming paid for by advertising can survive. The advent of television recording devices and satellite radio have made us are less tolerant of the interruption of commercials. It seems to me that the networks will have to get more invasive in their advertising modes, which will alienate their customers further, or move to some sort of fee for service model.

Gone Hollywood

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, Science & Technology, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael says:

    They don’t have to be more invasive, just more creative. At my house, we have two young children, so we rarely get to watch what we want when it airs. However, there are some commercials we will actually rewind the show to play again for each other to see.

    Advertisers have just gotten used to the low hanging fruit had have stopped trying to make their commercials worth watching.

  2. I started to comment here, but it got way too long so I stuck it on my blog:


    The gist of my blog entry is that advertising still works every bit as well as it always did, but that advertisers now have better information about how well it works. This is value added, so the networks should be charging them more for it.

  3. floyd says:

    **OMG… they’re NOT going out of business, ARE they?**

  4. Anderson says:

    It seems to me that the networks will have to get more invasive in their advertising modes

    How long until the “news crawl” becomes a paid-ad feature of every broadcast?

  5. Mark Jaquith says:

    If they’d provide me with a download of 1080p image with 6 channels of audio, I’d gladly pay for ad-free episodes. The alternative they’re hawking (low-res, crap audio) isn’t worth what they’re charging. You can get better quality stuff on file sharing sites.

    And if they made 1080p 6ch downloads free (they could even harness bit torrent), I’d gladly watch them with commercials intact. Right now my options are (a) crap quality + money on my time schedule, but without portability or (b) good quality, but commercials, and not on my terms (time and portability)

    Nope… still looking for (c)

  6. My feeling is that product placement is going to get much bigger than it already is.