Keeping Up at Home

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While waiting for the DVR to buffer some ads, random thoughts occur:

At home with a stomach bug two days last week — strategically positioned near the computer, the TV and the door to the, uh, other room — I began to truly appreciate the benefits of pausing and rewinding live TV. With enough interruptions and unscheduled naps, a showing of Groundhog Day on Cinemax 5 (running time one hour, 41 minutes) can kill three hours pretty painlessly. Every hour counts during a 48-hour lockdown.

Because my Motorola DVR virtuously won’t skip over ads, only blasts forward through them, I was able to selectively watch the ones that caught my eye during ad-supported daytime fare like, hypothetically, Columbo on Bravo. Some catchy ones were from Bravo’s old owner, Cablevision, which apparently has a new ad agency. I’ve given Cablevision some knocks in the past (for things like calling its digital TV package iO, which sounds a little too much like “I owe” to me), so here’s credit where it’s due. I really liked the new ad for Voom, the HDTV-type satellite-TV service from Cablevision’s Rainbow DBS.

It features a scared guy detailing the Voom features “the competition” doesn’t want you to know, while sandbags fall around him. At the end, a man in black suit and shades comes out and tells viewers to ignore that guy, “What you have is fine.” See, now that’s subtle. No pigs injured during that ad.

Cablevision has another ad (for iO) that’s also catchy, and involves animals, but this one left me a little puzzled. It was about how dogs don’t mind paying extra for satellite HDTV, and showed lots of dogs watching TV, and then said dogs fortunately have owners, who “pick cable over satellite 5 to 1.” That would be, what, since cable started in the 1950s?

I’m pretty sure satellite is adding more net customers a month than cable. I rewound a few times to read the fine print but it seemed to be more about iO pricing than that 5-to-1 stat. Dogs sure were cute, though.

Not to obsess over Cablevision (which isn’t my provider), but with all the talk lately about OpenCable and cable finally adding some ITV features in a widespread and consistent-looking way, I give Cablevision some credit for adding free interactive traffic and weather maps to iO. Assuming the information is accurate, that’s a feature sure to appeal to commuters.

Unfortunately, Cablevision’s Knicks got knocked out of the NBA playoffs early, but here’s another plug, for the production value of the games on ESPN and TNT. They’ve been really fun to watch this year — especially when you have the patience to watch on time delay and blast forward.

Even though my brief illness forced me to miss the day-long media briefing CableLabs held here in New York, I felt like I was keeping up with cable’s progress anyway, with the help of my remote, TV and hard drive.

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