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The Psychology of TiVo

Via the New York Times, an article on rabid fans of TiVo:

Not since the PalmPilot debuted in 1996 has a new electronic contraption sparked a cultlike following and so many zealous proselytizers...

Press a button, and TiVo will record every episode of "Six Feet Under," or any other show, for a season. TiVo viewers can pause when the phone rings, or speed through the boring parts. By fast-forwarding through commercials and those dull conferences at the mound, a TiVo viewer can watch a baseball game in 40 minutes without missing a pitch. Sit-coms take about 22 minutes. "Saturday Night Live" and "60 Minutes" can be viewed back to back -- on Monday.

Like early adopters of cellphones and the Internet, the first wave of users of personal video recorders swear that the devices have fundamentally altered their lives -- changing domestic routines, making it possible to live a life free of commercial interruptions and even providing the satisfaction of a rebellion against network goliaths.

The devices also make it easier to watch a lot more TV. Studies by Next Research, a media consulting firm, show that TiVo users watch an average of five to six additional hours of television per week, the company said.

"You justify it because it's more efficient," said Elise Loehnen, 23, an editorial assistant at Lucky magazine. "It means you're late going to the gym and that when you're home, you're not reading."

As a TiVo owner, I can attest to the truth of this. I feel like I'm beating the system somehow -- that by skipping commercials and not being tied to a schedule, I'm getting by with something. I feel like I'm being more efficient. But I'm also watching things I wouldn't have otherwise. I'm spending more time in front of the television.

I suppose that while the good news is that with TiVo, there's always something on that you want to watch, the bad news is that with TiVo, there's always something on that you want to watch.

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