Friday, May 11, 2012

Karmazin Feeling Hit on Many Sides Of Sirius

Mel Karmazin, CEO of Sirius, has been feeling quite a bit of heat lately.  With Howard Stern suing him for breach of contract to his former white knight, Liberty Media, trying to wrestle control from him, Mel has been having some bad days.  Of course the first round of the lawsuit went to Sirius, but Howard is pushing back on appeal.  And initially Liberty was told they couldn't take control but have now gone and bought more shares to increase their ownership stake.  The heat has been turned up and it appears that Liberty Media will shortly get their asset and Mel may find himself looking for the next big thing.

Time To Hop Over The Commercial

The VCR was first invented to play pre-recorded programs but became a great opportunity to tape and watch later your  favorite programming.  Some consumers had a hard time setting the clock feature; rather the clock always seemed to be blinking.  The DVR and TIVO made it even easier with no clock to pre-set.  Still, we had to manually skip through commercials to get to the programming.  Now comes from Dish, a new DVR that when set, automatically "hops" over the commercial break to the start of the next program segment.  No additional remote touching necessary.

Certainly, the  rise of technology to enable skipping commercials may rise from the number of commercials and the length of breaks on TV shows.  In most cases, non-programming time is 25% per hour.  The "Golden Age of TV" certainly never had so many commercials.  Consumer and business ingenuity created the solution with the DVR to counter the problem of too many commercials.

And yet, even with DVRs, I notice my own kids too lazy at times to skip ahead.  Despite heavy use of the DVR, once the show is picked, it runs through, commercials and all.  Adults are most likely more fed up with commercials then kids.  They still get information from them, toys to buy, movies to watch, new shows to record.

The "Auto Hop" feature on Dish DVRs just might appeal to those same consumers to lazy to manually skip ahead and willing to pay a bit more for the opportunity to have it done for them.  Heck, my kids sometimes yell out for me to come in to the room to skip ahead even though the remote is within their arms grasp.  So there just may be a market for those that want skipping done automatically.

And how do the content creators and advertisers survive? Better creative, less commercial breaks, product placement and in-program promotion, overlays, and all sorts of technological tricks.  The cat is already out of the bag with regard to the DVR.  "Auto Hop" is just another  feature.  These are results of too many commercials in programs and less time devoted to the actual show.  Why do viewers also like to watch online; less commercials.  Consumers are telling you the problem; it's time to pay attention.