Q: A question about not being able to fast-forward through on demand programming: What is your take on spending (what I consider to be) an excessive amount of money for cable, and yet you still have to sit captive to the now required commercials that you once were able to zip through? Shouldn't the price of cable cover whatever revenue may be lost in advertising?
- Jeff, 51, Forward Township
Rob: Jeff is conflating two different things. Very little of what you pay to your cable operator makes its way to a broadcast network, and what money does make it there does not make up for advertising dollars lost due to lower ratings caused by a multiplicity of channels and viewers watching via DVR, on demand or online.
For years, the compact broadcast channels had with viewers was this: You watch our commercials, you don’t have to pay for our shows. That dynamic still exists with free, over-the-air broadcast channels.
On demand programming is a new technology and I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect to not have to pay for some of it by watching ads – or wait a few days to watch it without commercials, which is what some networks allow.
Also, an easy work-around is this: Just DVR the show and fast-forward through ads; that’s what I do. I rarely use on demand.
Q: I've been performing a search, using msn.com, and read there is a possibility of a "Knight Rider" movie. Have you heard anything about that in your "grapevine"? Speaking of which, NBC tried to bring it back a few years ago and failed, and I was wondering if there would be any legal problems between NBC and Universal if NBC tried to return the original series?
- Jon, 58, Lower Burrell
Rob: NBC and Universal are both owned by Comcast so there are no legal hurdles.
I’ve heard nothing about a movie but given how much Hollywood likes to remake TV shows as movies these days, I would not be surprised if that happened at some point.
Q: My question deals with network scheduling. There are nights when I can watch only one of my favorite programs per time slot and must use On Demand to catch up on the others. For example “The Black List,” “Castle,” “Intelligence” are all on Monday at 10. Other nights nothing appeals to me because I do not watch reality shows or singing and dance competitions. Why do networks insist on going head-to-head with strong programs? I would watch all the dramas if they were spaced conveniently. "Those Who Kill" might have been a decent program if it had time to grow but I was only able to watch it once On Demand.
- Sharyn, 66, Pittsburgh
Rob: Networks care only about taking care of their own; programming nightly lineups that make the most strategic sense for their individual network. Any moves they make are focused on this. They simply do not care if their programming choices inconvenience viewers.
Now, you could argue that pitting similar-themed shows against one another is self-harm but I suspect in most lineup competitions if you were able to dig into network research you’d find the viewer profiles for any three or four shows airing at the same time are pretty different.
Q: I love the show “Love It or List It” on HGTV but I am a bit puzzled as to why they never tell were they are located. They never mention any city or state. Any ideas why they don't make it clear were they are located?
- Keith, 54, Middlesex
Rob: Here’s the response from an HGTV publicist: “’Love It or List It,’ featuring co-hosts Hilary Farr and David Visentin, currently shoots in Canada, with plans to shoot in the U.S. HGTV viewers love that we keep the focus on the homeowner stories in this series because the great design ideas from Hilary and the savvy real estate counsel from David are applicable to every homeowner – no matter where they live.”
Q: Why isn't “The Amazing Race” one of the programs on "On Demand"?
- Stephen, 72, Bellevue
Rob: For some reason it’s always considered “a touchy subject” when this question comes up because it has to do with whatever deal has been hatched by a show distributor (the network, CBS) and the company responsible for making the show (ABC Studios in this instance).
In this particular case I suspect there is no deal for on demand rights.
“We make as many series as we can, licensing agreements permitting, available on VOD,” according to a CBS publicist.
Not a question, just a comment. I love "The Americans," but a couple of weeks ago saw an anachronism that made me laugh. The show takes place in 1981 and apparently everyone has a Princess phone with the dialing buttons in the hand-held part of the phone. When the 15-year-old daughter used the phone, she used both thumbs to dial, the way everyone uses today's smartphones to dial and text. But back then, NOBODY dialed their Princess phones that way -- they held the phone with one hand and pushed the buttons with their index finger from the other hand!. But it is a much better-than-average show.
- Bob, 66, Steubenville, Ohio
GET OUT THE VOTE!