How often do you turn in the TV, in the USA at least, and find a commercial?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. frdanbecker says:

    I turn on the TV about as often as I meditate on the teachings of Starhawk.

  2. Stvsmith2009 says:

    I don’t have cable or satellite tv. I live so far out in the country, we have to pipe sunlight in, so no tv here. I do watch some old tv programs on hulu and there are commercials on the “free” version, but not as much as commercial tv. I don’t know if you are familiar with an old BBC series that appearred in the USA in the early 60’s called “The Adventures of Robin Hood”. I watched it as a child, and am now watching it again as I don’t really recall most of the stories. I do recall getting a swat on the backside in kindergarten because another boy and myself were inspired to “sword fight” from watching Robin Hood. Watching the show now made me realize something however. Robin Hood is the tale of a medieval socialist who practiced the redistribution of wealth.

  3. Tony Layne says:

    Don’t get me started on TV. There was a reason why they called it “the boob tube” (and that’s taking on a whole new meaning anymore). And the social engineering being performed on us daily by both commercials and the shows themselves is part of the reason why America’s value system is screwed up. (And yet I can’t throw the flipping monster away … I even upgraded it last year!)

  4. Sorry Fr., can’t help you there. I never watch TV now that I have Netflix with the full episodes of the shows I like. :-)

    God love ya

  5. Dirichlet says:

    Nine out of ten times.
    Anyways, TV is dying. And that’s good.

  6. APX says:

    58.72% of the time.

    I usually just watch YouTube.

  7. Andreas says:

    Here in Austria and nearby Germany, commercials are presented in a 5-minute block between each Sendung (program). That is, there are no interruptions during most broadcasts (including films). It thus becomes abit easier to avoid commercials.

  8. Ellen says:

    Don’t get me started! I mostly watch the Food Network and the sheer volume of commercials drives me to distraction.

    That’s all the TV I watch, by the way. I tried to watch a few network shows but couldn’t keep up with them.

  9. ray from mn says:

    If you look closely at the ratings figures, you find that each year smaller percentages of the population are watching TV.

    Particularly low are the percentages that watch TV news programs like Meet the Press on Sunday mornings. Church attendance beats them by a mile, as low as church attendance is. Yet the evening news and newspaper reporting is breathless in delivery as if a cure for the common cold had been found.

  10. teomatteo says:

    I’m so old… I remember when cable first started and there were NO commercials… “Hey, since you are paying for it then there is no need for commercials!” … how long did that last?

  11. Liz says:

    We are surprised when we get older t.v. shows from netflix that they are longer than shows now would be. I finally figured out it was the commercials or rather the fact that there were fewer of them back then that makes them longer.

  12. We are getting commercials more and more frequently here too now than we used to, but thankfully it is not as bad as in America. What also annoys me is the habit of having to review back to the last ten minute segment and then what is going to happen in the next ten minute segment, using even more time and contributing to our ever failing attention spans. Of course, since we don’t get the very frequent commercials over here, it becomes even more absurd in the American shows where these reviews and previews are still shown. It has to be said that the habit is creeping into the Norwegian shows as well, especially in the channels with more frequent commercial breaks. It’s very…I don’t know…a bit like the TV equivalent of nagging. They also seem to be ‘cheating’ a bit, by having breaks for preview of coming attractions when they are not allowed by law to have a commercial break.

    Thankfully, with the new digital boxes, you can pause and fast forward, or even easily tape the shows and start watching them enough into it to skip the commercial breaks. It’s great! If it were up to me, I would hardly ever start watching a programme with commercial breaks when the programme actually starts, but almost always give it a bit of a head start so as to be able to skip them!

  13. AnnAsher says:

    Yes! All the time and then when they are over I find there is still nothing I want to see! I keep trying to convince my husband to cut off the death box.

  14. Charivari Rob says:

    For commercial, broadcast TV?

    Probably a minimum of 30% of the time. That’s figuring on a one hour program being 42 minutes of actual “content”, so 18/60=0.3. I’m probably hopelessly out of date with the 42 minute figure (in the 60s, it was probably 46 minutes of content) and I don’t know if it would project the same for half-hour programs.

    In addition to probably having less than 42 minutes of content, you mentioned “turning it on and finding a commercial”. On average, we probably turn the set on in time for the program we want to watch, which means the beginning of our program or the end of the previous program – which is where the commercials are clustered in higher concentration than the average for the hour.

  15. Rob Cartusciello says:

    This is why my wife & I DVR everything and watch it later.

    We also play a game with EWTN called “Mitch/No Mitch”. Pick up the remote, guess whether Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. is on, then click over to EWTN. It’s fun.

  16. Jim Dorchak says:

    Who watches TV anymore?
    I have not watched TV in more than 10 years. The only reason for watching is the shows since the supposed news is not, and what is news is so depressing you need to self medicate. Also you can no longer trust the TV like you could when I was a kid. The Last time I watched TV was 9/11/2001. Dan Rather played a special report on the towers collapsing where a woman kept screaming Jesus F Christ (only she said the whole f word). This was acceptable to Dan and obviously the rest of america since “He” did not know it was on the tape…. yea right.
    I used to think that TV would poison my childrens ears, minds and hearts / souls, then I thought that if it was not good enough for my children, then what business did I have watching it?
    We have not had TV in our house since then.
    NOW I AM IN CONTROL of what I am fed. My wife and I chose net flix that we like for our children (there are even issues here though). For the most part I find we spend much more time outside working / playing / Living / praying.

    Jim Dorchak

  17. Almost never. I do not have and will not have a television in my home.

  18. Peggy R says:

    Yes. We’ve also figured out that commercials occur at the same time across channels. That is, say, at about 20 after, there will be commercial breaks on any channel if you flip around. So, no going to check on the news while a program is in commercial. We watch re-runs of the few shows we like after kids go to bed. I think the industry has worked it that way so commercials cannot be avoided.

  19. TCM and DVR are the greatest. I watched “I Confess”, “Going My Way,” and “The Quiet Man” [Great movie!] recently on TCM and there are no commercials. I DVR anything else and skip through the commercials. The ‘anything else’ category includes “Max and Ruby” for my youngest and college football. We watch tornado coverage (there’s a lot of that around here) live because there are no commercials. There’s a drinking game involved in watching tornado coverage (although, I don’t recommend it) and the rules are pretty funny:

  20. frjim4321 says:

    I don’t find much interesting on T.V. so don’t watch too many commercials. Waiting for the next season of “Breaking Bad” due out in July. Best television ever. Grieving the end of “24.” Other than that, “Southpark” is pretty funny at times, and “Daily Show” and “Colbert” are interesting, but usually on the TiVo, so don’t see the ads. Not watching much T.V. now since mainly working on the taxes and preparing for my parish seminars on the Roman Missal. Never used Power Point before, so experiencing a bit of a learning curve.

  21. frjim: I use the same DVR technique most of the time. I only follow one show/series and I record it as well as a few news shows and watch them without commercials on my own schedule. However, now that the world is coming back to life and the sport that God loves best has returned with spring training, the TV might be on a little more often in the evening.

  22. Fr. Z., pause the baseball game for about 20 minutes. Watch it and fast forward through all the commercials. When you catch up to the live game, pause again. Rinse repeat.

  23. Commercials are a large reason why Catholics striving for holiness need to avoid television altogether. No matter what wonderful program or wholesome sporting event one is watching, it could be poisoned by a commercial. I had to give up television many years ago, and I really don’t regret it. I have one in my bedroom and another in my closet, but these days they are decorations. When analog broadcast television was killed, I never bothered to get a converter box, and when our cable company eliminated analog cable, I told my parents not to bother getting me a cable box for it. Occasionally, I might play an old VCR tape of The Lawrence Welk Show or the last episode of The Prisoner, but that is about it. When the TV still had analog cable, I sometimes would watch the televised daily Mass from the cathedral if I couldn’t get out for some reason or if I wanted to get an extra homily, but sadly, I can live without that.

    If I need a dose of Monty Python, I have the whole series on DVD and can play it on my computer, and there’s always YouTube, which is much safer than conventional TV, as one has a greater degree of control over what is displayed.

    Finally, I’d rather listen to an old NBC Monitor program than watch almost any of what is on TV these days.

  24. BobP says:

    Like it or not, commercials (and marketing) is a big part of the economy. They create or keep jobs and raise customer awareness of products, even if you don’t buy. Some are even funny. And a welcome intermission for others.

  25. green fiddler says:

    For the most part, I gave up watching television years ago. We still have cable tv in the house. EWTN programs are great (no commercials). Our provider airs NASA-tv (no commercials) on the “educational access” channel when astronauts are on a mission.

    The only commercials I tend to see now are during ball games. it is difficult to sit through the promos for upcoming series; they are more offensive than I remembered.

  26. frjim4321 says:

    Yes, absolutly agree with NASA-TV.

  27. MJ says:

    Never watch TV…own one, but only use it for watching DVD’s (LOVE that show Hogan’s Heroes!).

  28. The Cobbler says:

    TV is a wonderful tool, but why would you just turn it on and look for something in the general swath of commercial channels rather than, I dunno, being picky in some way or another? Do you go on the internet and check out random websites, or do you follow some method of careful assessment as you look for anything on the ‘net? Same principle. (Except that the ‘net provides far more useful information, far more flexibility in accessing entertainment, etc., so the TV will probably flat out fail to compete one of these years…)

  29. RichR says:

    Some of the commercials are raunchier than the shows on TV nowadays.

    We keep our TV in an amoire so it’s out of sight. I think we cancelled cable and just got internet. I’ve given up on TV channels.

  30. benedetta says:

    TV commercials have been useful and instructive in this household. Since commercials are foisted upon the littlest, from the littlest age we actively teach how commercials exist for one reason and for one reason only “To sell you something.” We utilize the phenomena of commercials to introduce and reinforce critical thinking skills, to emphasize free will and the use of intellect, and the process of discernment. The practice of resistance. The point that commercials always and without fail are trying to make are to make you feel like “buying”. That exaggerating the truth in the form of a commercial is not really illegal but false claims might be and why. That they might advertise things that aren’t even healthy for you. Notice how the kid in the commercial is singing and dancing to rap music because he is wearing those particular sneakers which have a lot of interesting graphics around them but taken on their own without those look kind of ugly anyway. If you had x amount of money what would be the best use of it. That one who makes choices of whether to buy something on the basis of commercial alone is, well, sadly not very bright and perhaps easily duped..the possibilities are endless.

    However it has come to pass, that there is no longer any need to do a lot of regulating of tv watching or choices because the consensus and preference is that it be off, that the programming is uninteresting and is often dumb.

    EWTN I would note though does not have commercials.

    We also tune in to hockey, basketball and most importantly Yankee games and the YES network to relive such moments as the game following Thurmon Munson’s death in ’79.

    Hard to find a decent and presentable place for news and current events for family. A long time ago the News Hour was an alternative. CNN or FOX aren’t really presentable for family viewing much of the time. Local newspaper is pretty much worthless save for the comics page.

    We love Pius Media. Fr. Z, check out Pius Media! The Catholic netflix. Great customer care, excellent selection. Uplifting, encouraging, counter-cultural in the best sense.

  31. APX says:

    Andrew Saucci says:
    Commercials are a large reason why Catholics striving for holiness need to avoid television altogether. No matter what wonderful program or wholesome sporting event one is watching, it could be poisoned by a commercial

    Could you please elaborate on this? What is it about commercials that poisons TV shows? I really don’t see it.

  32. Jaybirdnbham says:

    I get around the commercials by pre-recording what I’m interested in watching so later I can fast forward through the commercials. If not for the DVR box, I wouldn’t bother with TV at all. My only current justification for paying for cable TV is so I can watch EWTN.

  33. Carolina Geo says:

    TV? What is this TV of which you speak?

    I stopped watching long ago, for two reasons. First, there’s nothing good on. Second, knowing my own propensity toward sloth, I would probably spend innumerable hours in front of the TV, despite the objections from reason number 1.

    Besides, there’s new drug on the market called “the internet,” where I can look up any interesting commercials that I might have missed! :-)

  34. KAS says:

    I don’t have cable but on the stations which do come in on my TV there is far more commercial than program. Not that it matters much, there is practically nothing worth watching on the TV anyway.

    When I visit relatives who have cable I am amazed that they have so many channels and there is still nothing worth watching.

    I save the money and buy entire TV series that hubby and I have enjoyed in the past. It is nice to settle into the evening and watch an episode or two without commercials or a movie without commercials. It seems that there are very few series worth having. But each year I find one or two movies to add to the collection, some new, some old. It seems the older movies have more to them than the newer ones but I do enjoy the special effects possible these days.

    I know that selling people things is a big part of our culture, but I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being told I am somehow missing out if I don’t go buy whatever they are selling. I don’t need to be emotionally manipulated into dissatisfaction with what I have already. There is simply no reason to put up with it. The cost of cable alone, put into purchasing what is worth re-watching, can lead to a very nice collection.

    Nope, much happier with the TV off!

  35. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    We can’t afford cable so we play movies on DVD, the funnier the better. I started off not watching anything at all with my first two babies but since then I’ve found some movies and shows to be a rewarding and educational experience for them. With so many complete series of fun cartoon shows available, I think parents really have an advantage nowadays in censoring their children’s viewing. Hooray for DangerMouse, Inspector Gadget, Ducktales, The Littles, Pink Panther, Rocky and Bullwinkle, yes and even Dora the Explorer, yes we succombed to her charm, etc.
    My husband likes action movies and I like comedies. Since there is sometimes inappropriate material in both kinds of films, we keep the fast forward button handy. I agree with the poster above that if children view any junk or whatnot (though that should be avoided as much as possible) such as certain commercials, that a parent can use it as a teaching moment.

  36. Sorry no TV here. Way too crude and vulgar to bother with these days. Personally I really don’t like it anymore as its mostly just noise without much substance (if not worse). Also gave up radio for pretty much the same reasons even before. Just seems to rob one of peace since it is so distracting. After awhile I came to really enjoy the silence- though it wasn’t easy at first. My family now rents from the local library. At least that way you have some control over what you watch and don’t pay them to produce for perversiion out in Hollywood.

    Another way to look at it is no more commercials now. LOL

  37. spock says:

    Got rid of TV 14 years ago.

    Any videos I want to see are through the computer/internet. Much better that way. First month or two was rougth but after that not a big deal. Suggest if anyone does that to make sure you have something to fill the time void you created by getting rid of the TV.

    Visiting relatives is rough because when I see TV there, I am not used to the now ridiculously long commercial segments, even on cable.

    My opinion: do yourself a favor, get rid of it.

  38. Dr. Eric says:

    Very soon TV will be nothing but infomercials.

    This Sunday, Fr. Barron’s infomercial (“Word on Fire”) was not on WGN America. :-( I hope he didn’t run out of funding.

    I wish someone in the government or in the cable/dish world would let us pay for the channels we want, about 25-40 cents per channel. That would rid cable/dish of the gutter trash that it usually shows.

  39. my kidz mom says:

    Didn’t get a box for the analog conversion; kept the TV only to watch DVDs. Life is good :)

  40. Banjo pickin girl says:

    My DVR that I only got last May broke in the audio part yesterday. So swapping it out would cause me to lose everything I have recorded. I have a writing project I need to concentrate on. So, tomorrow, the DVR goes back to Time-Warner and I shut off my cable completely. I will give my TV to my mother who needs a new one, hers is not working right. Giving up TV for Lent except it’s permanent.

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