The Ad's The Thing

Tyler Cowen with a disturbing projection: "By the way, the net effect of TiVo will be more shows with ads; if they add commercials to The Sopranos, the people who hate ads can take them out themselves." I think I'm not really an ad hater as one can tell from oft-inefficient ad-skipping when I use the DVR. This, however, largely misses the virtue of advertising-free television, which is less that the ads are so bad than that the need to fit the ads changes the narrative flow.

On non-commercial television, the scenes just unfold the way the writers want them to unfold. On advertiser-supported television, by contrast, you need to have certain predetermined breaks in the show which constrains how you can pace your episode. That's the problem. Sports broadcasts, which are mostly able to fit the ads into fairly natural stoppages in play, are in some ways enhanced by the advertising breaks which give you a chance to chat with your friends, urinate, grab another beer, etc.