NBC Begs Viewers to Dump the DVR


NBC wants viewers to watch their favorite NBC shows (if anyone has a favorite NBC show anymore) live and not to record it on their DVR. 

At least for the May Sweeps.

The NY Daily News writes that for the past week, the Peacock Network has been promoting its shows with the puzzling tag line “Watch it live!”

At first it seemed like NBC was living on the edge, preparing to broadcast parts of its prime-time schedule the way it did during TV’s golden age more than 60 years ago — live from the studio.

Such was not the case, although for strictly selfish reasons, NBC brass have certainly grown old-fashioned.

What they seem to hope is that you will suddenly give up your newfound freedom to watch programs on your own schedule.

It has only been a few years, but thanks to DVRs, Hulu, Netflix and all sorts of Internet streaming, we’ve gotten used to watching shows whenever we want.

Having TV available this way even has its own name: The industry calls it “time shifting,” and networks absolutely hate it.


One-word answer: ratings.

Online viewers don’t count when it comes to TV ratings, and when viewers watch shows they’ve recorded on their DVRs, Nielsen doesn’t include them until two weeks after the broadcast.

Worse, to even be counted, the viewing has to take place within seven days of the original air date.

So when the numbers finally come in, though they may pump up a show’s ratings, the window for network brass to crow about them — in the press, to advertisers or to whoever cares — is long closed.

In the (not so) old days, television luxuriated in “event programming” — stuff so enticing that millions of people would be forced to schedule their evenings around it.

Take ABC’s classic miniseries “Roots,” which aired in 1977, at the dawn of the VCR era. Pretty much the only way to watch it was to tune in when the network aired it. Nearly everybody saw it at the exact same time.

That could never happen today, and it’s driving the people in charge of television absolutely crazy — even if they’ve been forced to embrace the self-service technology they hate so much.

NBC’s answer is to encourage us to “Watch it live!”

Way to miss to point, television geniuses. Maybe next they’ll try to sell us on steam-powered engines and Edison light bulbs.

H/T NY Daily News