Philips Is Making Us Angry


We were going to ignore this one because it's just so stupid but we keep seeing everyone talking about that Philips patent that would make it possible for broadcasters to somehow disable the ability of people to skip through commercials. However, we just can't leave it alone and we left a comment over at AdFreak which we'll share with you here.

"It's bad enough now that some DVDs force you to endure move previews...and that DVD manufacturers go along with the ploy. I have mixed feeling about where this will go. After all, if this thing actually took hold, people, as they use to do, would just get up during the commercial break and go to the kitchen or to the bathroom. And, to boot, since research is getting better at knowing when people actually see a commercial versus knowing it was simply broadcast to an empty room, marketers will bail out on this before it goes anywhere."

What do you think?

UPDATE: In an Advertising Age article today, Philips has clarified its patent claiming it meant to offer choice, not force viewership of ads, "We developed a system where the viewer can choose, at the beginning of a movie, to either watch the movie without ads, or watch the movie with ads. It is up to the viewer to take this decision, and up to the broadcaster to offer the various services."

by Steve Hall    Apr-20-06   Click to Comment   
Topic: Television, Tools, Worst   

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For those who are truly upset, I suggest sending email to Terry Fassburg, Vice President, Philips Consumer Electronics Brand Communications.

I'm sure they won't mind hearing from appreciative customers.

Posted by: Todd Copilevitz on April 20, 2006 12:59 PM


I agree absolutely. It seems to me that the idea of using technology to prevent commercial skipping is a form of advertising utopianism - a reaching towards the past golden age of the 1950s when people watched more or less whatever was put in front of them. Why is that golden age gone? More programming choices are not the cause, they are the result of advertisers abusing their power, creating annoying and terrible ads and creating the channel-switching behavior which opened the door for more channels and eventually cable.

The real answer is to create ads that are engaging and deliver value to the consumer beyond the commercial message. Pay me back for my time in entertainment or information and I'll watch your commercial. It is not enough to assume there's a value exchange because you sponsor the television show I am watching because my perception is that I am paying for that - through my cable provider.

David Vinjamuri
The ThirdWay Advertising Blog

Posted by: David Vinjamuri on April 20, 2006 1:13 PM

Forcing ads upon viewers will alienate the advertiser from the viewer. It will cause the viewer to shut down mentally and disregard the advertisement, no matter how good it is. Force viewing is like telling me I can't turn my radio channel to avoid an ad. What next, a digital tuner disabler activated only when radio ads run? Bizarro world man. I would love to know that the FCC thinks about all this.

Posted by: John on April 20, 2006 3:06 PM

Sounds like a perfect opportunity to grab a frothy beverage and a snack. They can keep me from zipping past the ads but they can't make me watch.

Posted by: steph on April 20, 2006 3:08 PM

DVDs and TV don't force anyone to do anything. Take George Harrison's advice (from Hard Day's Night), turn the sound off and say rude things.

Posted by: stephen on April 20, 2006 3:22 PM

Advertisments are the reason the mute button was created!

Posted by: mordacious on April 20, 2006 3:27 PM

Does that mean we couldn't flip channels? How the hell will we be able to watch two games at a time?

It's sheer genius. Now we'll all have to have two television sets sitting right next to each other.

Posted by: MHenry on April 20, 2006 3:32 PM

Shameless plug, but wrote about this today, , and while I agree with your thinking, Philips' "apparatus" (and also ABC for their skip-proof shows) aren't as backwards as first glance may seem. At some point, our free lunch won't be free, or will be really hard to get for free and won't be worth the effort. It's economics and capitalism - someone needs to pick up the bill.

Pay and see no ads, or be forced to watch ads and not pay (leaving the room or looking away is of course still optional). Those will be the primary models for most video content worth watching and the "forced" people will have to be given some value (per comments above) in order for a brand to actually resonate (especially after interrupting). But shouldn't that have always been the goal of creative and media professionals - to engage and provide a value exchange to the right people at the right time?

Sooner or later the pendulum will reach its apex, our free ride will end, and we'll need to swallow going backwards. So ABC and Philips may indeed be backwards, but that may also be where we will be someday.

Posted by: Eric on April 20, 2006 3:55 PM

The market will eventually find a balance between forced commercials and viewers.

I already avoid TV stations with too many adverts or heavy adverts towards the end of programs. I also avoid stations that impose adverts over the program. I just don't tune-in, period.

For similar reasons, I discourage the kids from renting Disney DVDs.

I only watch some channels (like BBC America) if the program is recorded on DVR. The commercials are hard to take otherwise. If I could not fast forward, I'd skip the BBC as well. There is always the Internet, video games, DVDs or analog things called books.

I can take 3 or 4 short commercial breaks an hour. Adverts are not the issue, it's the volume of avderts that produces diminishing returms for advertisers.

Eventually advertisers will realise that their ads are no more than high volume spam with very low returns. The smart ones will look for quality media outlets that put viewer interest first.

Posted by: DXL on April 20, 2006 4:59 PM

This is awesome. We're all so freaking fat, we can use an excuse to get up and walk around a couple of times an hour.

Posted by: Tes on April 20, 2006 5:02 PM

I think Eric makes a good point, but it still ticks me off to think about disabling skipping. As we move away from appointment TV we will probably see more of that. Download a program and it will come with no-skip ads embedded.

As for DVDs with forced previews. I get around that by hitting "action" as the contents starts up and then "play" again. That seems to force quit the automatic start-up and go to the DVD menu.

Oh, and Tes: unfortunately all that getting up will be used to get more fatty snacks. I'm afraid it will be a net calorie gain.

Posted by: Pat Smith on April 20, 2006 5:43 PM

I just purchased a HD DVD player that has the option to disable the UOP (user operation permissions). That's the feature that disables the FF or Menu button. I won't stand for it with my TV watching(I've got 4 DVR's), and now I can avoid it when I watch DVDs. It's my time and my money and I won't be dictated how I watch, and what I watch.

Posted by: ratmanbythesea [TypeKey Profile Page] on April 20, 2006 6:42 PM

There is no technology that can prevent someone from fast-forwarding through a show they have recorded. The whole story is ridiculous.

Posted by: fletcher on April 20, 2006 6:54 PM

I think you spelled 'movie' wrong.

I think your site, while great overall, is filled with inexcusable, inexplicable and insipid typos.

I think you need a good copywriter to Git R Done.

Hint. Hint.

Wink. Wink.

Nod. Nod.

Click. Click.

Posted by: Dylan Barmmer on April 20, 2006 7:23 PM

at the dinner table mom always told me that i didnt have to eat brocoli if i didn't want to, now moms shoving them down my throat. lol

philips shame on you, you commi bastards!!!!

Posted by: Spiro on April 20, 2006 7:33 PM

Well it looks like I'm sticking to VLC to skip through those annoying pathetic atempts to make me watch more ovies. After all I bought the DVD.

One of the good points I read above is that we are to blame for not writing to the Phillips and movie industry of this world. Let's hope our blogs help.

Posted by: Nick on April 20, 2006 10:46 PM

Isn't it strange how advertising people are all against a device that would make everybody else finally appreciate all those brilliant ideas the ad people spent sleepless nights creating? I'd say, tie them viewers to their armchairs. When you skip the commercials, you aid communism.

Posted by: ivv on April 20, 2006 11:47 PM

If Philips wants to turn the clock back they should just invent a time machine that takes us all back to the golden age. Problem solved. Of course, that would get rid of TiVo, Philips and all of our jobs. doh!

Posted by: Mo P on April 21, 2006 4:56 AM

Seems like a clear case of something that the market will handle by itself. If Philips does this I forsee a huge defection from Philips DVR boxes. Other manufacturers will see that as an opportunity to pick up those wayward customers by advertising that, "We won't make you watch commercials! Sign up today!" Problem solved.

Posted by: Warren on April 21, 2006 10:13 AM

Seems like a clear case of something that the market will handle by itself. If Philips does this I forsee a huge defection from Philips DVR boxes. Other manufacturers will see that as an opportunity to pick up those wayward customers by advertising that, "We won't make you watch commercials! Sign up today!" Problem solved.

Posted by: Warren on April 21, 2006 10:14 AM