Fan Wrath: 'Idol' Runs Over, Net, TiVo Hear From Viewers

Millions of DVR owners were not able to see the finale of "American Idol" because the show overran its scheduled two-hour time period by nine minutes.

As a result, Web sites and blogs were lit up yesterday, as viewers voiced complaints--mostly at Fox, and secondarily, at DVR services like TiVo. Both Fox and TiVo noted that unlike other TV network finales, "Idol" is aired live (or live-to-tape for West Coast viewers). "Idol" is not unlike other big live events--the Oscars and the Super Bowl, for example.

"We're sorry that DVR users may have missed the conclusion of the "American Idol" broadcast," said a Fox statement. "It was always our intention to bring the show in on time, but just as with any live sports, variety, awards or entertainment event, there is no way to absolutely guarantee that the show will end exactly on the hour. Fox and the producers apologize to those viewers who were inconvenienced."

Said a spokeswoman in a statement: "That's why we allow and encourage subscribers to pad extra minutes, so they don't miss the finale of that respective event." This isn't the first time the "Idol" finale ran long. For the past four seasons, each of the "Idol" finales overran anywhere from one to four minutes. But analysts say with DVR penetration now just under 20% of all TV homes, the chorus is getting louder.

The "Idol" show, because it airs live all year round, also ends up running long by a minute or so during the regular season. Experienced DVR users, say analysts, know to "pad" their settings of specific TV shows anywhere from a minute to five minutes because of the vagaries of live TV. Yet even veteran DVR users, they say, couldn't anticipate a nine-minute overrun.

This year, for the upfront ad season, broadcast networks have been making an extra effort to add DVR viewership data into commercial buys made by advertisers.

A Fox spokesman noted that time-shifted "Idol" viewers will be accounted for in the special two-hour--and nine-minute--broadcast.

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