Time Warner Cable's Pseudo-DVR Won't Let You Skip Commercials

Illustration for article titled Time Warner Cable's Pseudo-DVR Won't Let You Skip Commercials

In October, Time Warner is going to start rolling out a new DVR-like service called Look Back—emphasis on the "like," since it won't let you fast-forward through commercials and you have to watch a show before midnight on the day that it's shown. You don't get to keep them, either. But, it's totally gratis.

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Subjecting viewers to ads is obviously the point of the new service (versus standard DVR), as Time Warner is lobbying Nielsen to count shows viewed with Look Back as "live viewing." Comcast, on the other hand, is planning a similar service, but is still undecided on whether or not it's going to shutdown the fast-forward button.

By offering the service free of charge, Time Warner (and other cable operators) are clearly trying to undercut TiVo while being more business-friendly by not letting us escape the scourge of commercials. Time Warner, naturally, doesn't see it that way. At a July conference, its president, Jeffery Bewkes, offered this golden nugget of rationalization: "People are used to advertising. A good number of people like the advertising."

Yeah, during the Super Bowl. The other 364 days of the year, not so much, Jeff. [NYT]

DISCUSSION

This is great for TiVo, not so great for Time Warner. These sort of experimental television services are great for big business to dip their toes in the water of future media delivery and consumption. TiVo isn't without its problems, nor are cable company supplied DVR boxes. If Time Warner offers this watered down version of time shifting, it only encourages users to expect time shifting capabilities with their television services. Then once users have grown to enjoy and expect these services, they'll be willing to pay for services like TiVo that are a premium service— as is fast forwarding commercials.