I love the digital video recorder (DVR) that I have with my cable TV subscription. I think it is the best thing to happen to TV, well, since the addition of cable. I love being able to pause, rewind and fast forward while watching television, whether the show was recorded or live. I love being able to start a TV show about 20 minutes late and fast forward through the commercials. And I really love that I can record 2 shows at the same time and so easily find every show by date or alphabetical order, two things that could not be done with VCRs. But I also have concerns about whether having it so easy to view any show at any time makes it more or less likely that families will watch TV together.
The New York Times ran an article yesterday, Monday 5/12/08, In the Age of Tivo and Web Video, What is Prime Time? in which they discussed time shifting TV watching from a ratings point of view. This article got me thinking about the topic of time shifting but from a family point of view. As more and more people start setting their recorders to automatically record all their favorite shows, eventually they may even forget when they are on and just watch when they have the time. Will families still all sit down together at 9:00 on Thursday to watch The Office or will they have to make a date to all see it. Or will they wind up watching it separately? It could also go the other way. If everybody does want to watch The Office together, but dad can’t be home until 9:20, everybody could easily wait, and start the show when he comes in? I think the difference might be more in how equally enjoyed it is by the whole family and whether it is a continuing show like Lost or Heroes or one that stands by itself. I do know that no matter what, my family has all vowed to watch the finale of Lost together.
The other concern I have with time shifting TV watching concerns family and friends and is that when it comes to hot, water cooler type shows, I love to talk about them afterwards. I usually try to watch those shows on the night they air so that I can discuss them the next day, but sometimes my kids and/or friends haven’t watched them yet and I’m dying to talk to them about what happened. That is when I am so thankful for all thousands of people online that I can always find to talk to about my shows.
I’m curious, for those families with teens that have Tivo or cable DVRs – Do you think that has helped your family find time to watch TV together more often or do you now watch TV less often?