For example, I happily fast-forwarded through VOD episodes of the TBS comedy “Sullivan & Son” as well as that network’s reality show “Deal With It” and talk show “Conan.” Mind you, there’s one caveat here: TBS did not have any paid commercials attached to these VOD offerings.
Instead, the network ran promos of other TBS shows during commercial breaks. “Sullivan & Son” contained promos for “Big Bang Theory,” “Franklin & Bash,” “Family Guy” and “Conan.” A “Conan” episode had three promos: for “Conan,” “Family Guy” and “Big Bang Theory.” You could zip past all of those.
Other cable networks like USA are in the same boat as TBS. Because VOD is still a relatively new format, not all advertisers are rushing in. In addition, not all pay TV providers are smoothly operating their VOD services.
Some networks are farther ahead than others in selling VOD commercials. The broadcast networks seem to have done better than cable networks.
Those VOD shows that include standard commercials have been good deals for viewers. Typically they contain just one or two 30-second commercials in each break. Not bad.
VOD viewing can be part of the Nielsen C3 rating -- commercial ratings plus three days of time-shifted viewing. Advertisers also know that the fast-forwarding remote control function will be disabled for paid commercials.
There is still a way to go. Rentrak says viewers spent an average of 8.7 hours with VOD content per month in 2013, up only 12 minutes from a year earlier.
Still many big VOD services – like long-time proponent Comcast -- have been enthusiasts. Comcast says its C3 ratings are up 20%.
Of course, you can’t fast-forward through the commercials. But hopefully, for viewers, it will be hard to find those commercials on some networks, at least for the near term. That will force the TV powers-that-be to let viewers snarkily cherish their remaining days of fast-forwarding activity.