Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I am tired... of those stupid TV executives

My job can certainly be quite tiring although it's not very physical—it's even rather boring sometime—but I do lots of commuting and that can also be a drain on my energy. Sometimes I get so tired that I cannot do anything after work—and that's a real drag for all my other projects like the anime specials I am trying to put together or this blog. However, I always do my best to rest on my days off (after all my priority is now to stay healthy in order to work and be able to cover our living expenses). I guess I must have been quite tired yesterday because I slept nearly twelve hours! To make sure I was well rested I spent the rest of the day relaxing while watching a little TV, reading a book (a manga actually) or the newspaper and fiddling on the computer (reading more news, doing some updating, taking notes, trying to learn GarageBand, installing Chrome OS, etc.).

On another subject, some channels must really hate people with PVR (Personal Video Recorder—those cableboxes with an hard drive that can record two shows at a time, allow you to watch while recording and to fastforward the advert). I suppose they don't like PVRs because their advertisers don't like them either—since we can skip the advert (although, in my case, I do watch some adverts when they seem interesting, like the preview of a show or movie, a cool consummer product, etc.). Often, the people watching their TV on PVRs with a delay (a few hours to days later) are not counted in the ratings (the base for establishing the advert cost), therefore reducing the potential advertising income of TV stations. But this situation is slowly changing since delayed viewing on PVRs has started to be more and more frequent and is now calculated more often into the ratings.

Unfortunately, some TV stations still don't like PVRs and—is it out of spite or simply to discourage viewers from using them?—often change the scheduling of a weekly show or let it run a few seconds or minutes over causing PVRs to record incomplete shows or sometime even fail to record them at all! I find this utterly annoying. This forces me to supplement the work of my PVR by also downloading some of the shows I am following in order to make sure I'll be able to watch them in their entirety.

Another negative side effect of the PVR (and downloading) is that a reduced ratings will often cause the downfall or cancellation of a show when a larger part of the viewership is not watching the direct broadcast. This is particularly true for science-fiction or geeky TV series. TV executives—not very bright people, particularly at Fox—tend to count only the traditional ratings. I really hate those people. They seem to take a cruel pleasure in cancelling an excellent Sci-fi TV series which has a strong following amongst the geeky fans but that has not good ratings amongst the usual and mondane viewers... (There's countless example of this: Space Above & Beyond, Babylon 5, Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Defying Gravity, Dollhouse, etc. -- many of those on Fox)

Despite all that I still dearly love my PVR. It really changed my life and I don't know how I was managing my TV watching before (I do vaguely remember recording one show at a time on a capricious VCR). With my hectic schedule I cannot necessarily watch a show at the moment it is broadcast, so now I can record one or two shows at a time for later watching. It is so convenient that I often PVR or download shows even when I am available to watch them in direct broadcast (then I simply jump in the show whenever I like and start watching from the start—and even skip the advert!).

It is surprising, when we think about it, how new technologies as simple as they are can completely change our lives so quickly. Of course such change is not always for the best. I do watch too much TV for my health. A recent study said that watching more than four hours of TV per day could seriously reduce our life expectancy. Maybe I should cut my viewing time and read more books instead—I would probably have more time to think or to write. However, TV is addictive they say. But, frankly, getting a story told either in writing as a book or in pictures as a TV broadcast isn't that different, isn't it? I guess, with a book, more is left to the imagination, making the brain work harder... But isn't that more tiring? ;)

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