Worried TV Advertisers Look to Start Over

National TV advertisers who have been considering self mutilation due to new digital TV recording technologies may have something to calm the sting: a new system from Time Warner will allow viewers to get a second chance to see TV commercials.

Next year in a few selected markets, Time Warner Cable will experiment with a new service called Startover, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which will allow viewers who have tuned in to the middle of the show to start the program from the beginning.

As long as the show is still being aired, viewers can start over from the beginning. But once it's over, viewers can't go back. Startover is looking into obtaining rights from producers to allow this.

Sounds like promising news for advertisers -- sort of.

Viewers can also see missed TV commercials unless, of course, they have a DVR. Or leave the room to grab a snack. Or change channels. Or gaze into space. Or do what they been doing before digital video recorders came on the scene.



Hey, at least there's some hope.

TV advertisers' headaches these days are focused on DVRs. And Time Warner itself, like all other cable operators and other sellers, has been selling DVR systems to cable subscribers.

But unlike DVR systems, Startover has no hard-drive to record multiple programs. Startover programs are stored at the cable head end. The biggest difference is that Startover doesn't allow for fast forwarding through content - or commercials.

For advertisers, this may be a two-edge sword. Viewers may end up seeing commercials for a second time. That's good (though a network may end up charging advertisers more for that bonus.)

At the same time, if Startover viewers also have DVR systems, they have a chance to deepen the humiliation of TV marketers and their creative agencies by rejecting the same commercial twice.

Then again if Startover goes over - perhaps as a lower-cost, poor man's DVR with stripped down functions -- then TV advertisers can finally get out of the bathtub and drop their razors.

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