Then TiVo and rival RePlay arrived in the late '90s and solved the dilemma. Never again would I, or anyone for that matter, have to sacrifice program viewing for real-time conversation. A simple stroke of the pause or record button on the TiVo remote control and my program would be obediently awaiting my command, whether frozen on the last live frame viewed or queuing in my TiVo recorded programs (Now Playing). So it begs the question: why is the personal video recorder penetration in the U.S. so low. Industry experts peg household reach at anywhere from 10+ million households to 18 million. Disappointing for a device that has transformed the TV viewing experience and so addictive that once imbibed one cannot live without it.
I think I have an answer and possible solution. It resides within the creative execution of the value proposition to the consumer. Anytime I see an advertisement for a new consumer electronics product that manipulates content (video and audio), or view a new interactive TV application on cable or satellite the creative appears to be clever, funny, at a minimal, award winning, but never really straightforward and informative. You know, addressing the basic human questions: what is it, how will it be beneficial to me and why should I care.
As an example, if I remember correctly, one of the first TiVo or RePlay commercials featured a guy watching a football game with the clock running down, seconds to play, and his team behind in points. In a desperate attempt to salvage the game the team either throws a Hail Mary pass or kicks a very long field goal. In either case, the guy watching the game cannot take the pressure so he "pauses" the live action and drives to his local church and gets down on his knees to pray. I think, if memory serves me well, he returns back home, clicks on the "play," the game resumes and we, the viewer, never find out how the team fared.
Since I've been married -- mid '90s -- I've noticed that one of our -- my wife and mine -- nighttime rituals revolves around TiVo. While she preps for the next day and/or showers, I relax on the couch in our bedroom - catching a TiVo'd program - that she has no interest in viewing. After she's done with her bath, she enters the bedroom. Hearing the door open I immediately "pause" my program. We discuss the rest of the evening's festivities and tomorrow's events. If I sense that this will be a long conversation I turn off the TV confident that I can resume where I left off when I dutifully finish listening to my wife. In my opinion, that's the content of a commercial that would resonate with both viewing genders and addresses the basic questions: what is it, how will it be beneficial to me and why should I care.