Nick Leshi

Nick Leshi
Bronx, New York, United States of America
December 13
Writer, actor, media professional, fan of entertainment, pop culture, and speculative fiction. Contact for more info.


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MARCH 31, 2010 1:23PM

Stop Cluttering Up My TV Screen

Rate: 22 Flag
Viewers of last night's excellent episode of Lost were up in arms about ABC's promotional tactic of placing a "countdown clock" and a V logo on the bottom corner of the screen to hype the sci-fi series return immediately after Lost.  It fulfilled the ABC marketers' goals, succeeding in grabbing viewers' attention, but it also distracted from the content of Lost, especially during a poignant scene between Sun and Jack, in which the logo and countdown clock intruded on the shot of Sun's handwritten notes to Jack. (Whether the tactic helped or hurt the ratings for V, or had no impact at all, is difficult to prove one way or the other.)

Many have already commented on this, including this article in the Star-Ledger. My two-cents on the topic: I side with those who want a clutter-free screen when watching television programming.

There are certain times when on-screen graphics, tickers, crawls, swipes, etc., might be valuable to the viewer, like emergency updates, or scores and stats during sporting events.  News channels, however, have gone overboard with all the clutter, having so much information zipping across the screen, I cannot imagine how most of it gets absorbed by the audience.  And regarding sports stats, I still sometimes would just like to see the athletes playing the game without all the fancy information on the screen.  With all the interactive digital TV technology being developed, can't they offer home viewers the option to turn those stats off and on themselves as they need them?

But the clutter is often marketing oriented, not information oriented.  The ad folks want to sell us something or make us tune in to another program.  All that does is distract us from the content we are watching.  With ever-evolving animation techniques, the clutter is becoming more and more intrusive and annoying.

Pop up ads and intrusive animation is a nuisance on the Internet, so I definitely do not appreciate it on my television screen.  As people TiVo their shows and skip commercials, such in-program ad placement is one option to continue to grab viewers attention, so I see the problem only potentially getting worse.  I do not know what the solution is except to have viewers voice their displeasure when their viewing experience is ruined by such tactics. 

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lost, v, television, tv, advertising, marketing

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Yes and yes! We've been known to tape a piece of cardboard to the bottom corner of the TV so we didn't have to see it...
It drives me nuts. Another reason not to watch. Rated!!!
Agreed. I'm tired of all the "dancing bears" in the bottom of the screen. It's bad enough that I have to look at the logo of the channel.
Seriously - there's nothing worse than being in the middle of a very dramatic or suspenseful moment, and then suddenly having a friggin' Housewife of New York pop up in your lower screen and start wiggling around.
Didn't Lewis Black once do a bit on this kind of television, something about watching one story and the bottom of the screen telling him that 50% of people interviewed feel that they have no feelings. I remember how well he enacted his outrage at this when I read this blogg.
Add another to the tired of it list. I don't mind some of it, they get worse every week it seems
if you haven't seen the Family Guy episode which riffs on the TV ad "bugs," you should. It features such amazing-sounding shows as "Shovin' Buddies" and "Slowly Rotating Black Guy."
You are sooooo right! I can't watch cable news because of the clutter. Though I like knowing other scores while watching a game, I don't need it every second (same with stats). And whenever they sully the show I'm watching with an onscreen promo for another show, I feel like paying homage to Elvis by shooting the screen.
I couldn't watch it last night, but I thought Lost itself interferred with it's own program by sticking "explanations" at the bottom of the screen while the dialogue and action continued on the screen above. I know it was an attempt to appease viewers who haven't watched earlier seasons, but it was extremely distracting to this viewer, who hasn't missed an episode.

Boy, did I notice that too! You couldn't get a clear rad on that note!

We pay up the ying yang for tv cable and this is beyond invasive for something we pay out of pocket for monthly. Really got my dander up too.

Do not mess with my last of Lost episodes. I will be cranky enough when this season wraps up.
Not a fan of Lost. Would rather see the countowns Vlogo full screen and Lost in the corner. But that's just me.
It is so distracting.......... I hate it. I do not have ADD....I really can focus on just one thing at a time. It was there last night when I was watching SVU just before the new CI. I did not need to see Jeff Goldblum peeping around the corners, as cool as I think Jeff is. It started from the crawl I think. ...... we are trying to fill every little corner of the world with advertising. Ugh.
it's so annoying, like a bug on the screen that you can't squash
This has been going on for a while now but just seemed to be noticeable last night because of the campiness of "Lost". I mean they do it all the time on Discovery to let you know that it's 20 minutes to Deadliest Catch or Dirty Jobs. I guess I'm just proletarian in my viewing choices.
The worst are the animated ads. Some are so photorealistic, I think they're part of the show I'm watching! I've jumped out of my seat sometimes during a slow or tense scene when a dancing dude suddenly pops out of the corner!
Testify! The "V" counter drove me crazy last night also. It's the reason I cover up the clock on my DVD player, I find counters distracting. And the same thing with the sports score. I find myself focusing on who's ahead in some other game and wind up missing action in the one I'm actually watching.
They lost me at the nine minutes of commercial breaks every nine minutes. I haven't had cable for most of my adult life, but prefer to read popular science books and surf topics of interest. Books have very few commercials.
And they wonder where this current epidemic of ADHD comes from! I can hardly read a book without a commercial break every 12 minutes.
I don't complain, because the alternative is being forced to pay to watch my favorite TV shows. I don't have money for that, so keep my peace.
nerdyjen, the problem is that many people do pay for their tv content, through satellite service or cable, and yet we all still have to deal with ads. I don't mind occasional commercial breaks sometimes, but the intrusive stuff has to stop. It's as if they're making us pay for their ads rather than the real contentt we're paying for and they don't care about our viewer experience, so why should we care for what they are trying to sell us
cindy, come on, don't take away my idiot box. Next you'll be tell me to turn off my idiot computer, or mt idiot smartphone, or my idiot Kindle haha
They should go back to having shows sponsored by one advertiser. There have been a couple of show that start their season premiers this way and I much appreciate it (and remember the advertisers better.) On the web, if you watch an ABC show, you often have the option of one long (30 secs) ad in the beginning (or a questionnaire) which is kinda awesome. CBS is the worst online tv experience.
Within four years the TV ad clutter will be gone--at least on the four major networks. They can no longer remain solvent and competitive with the cable markets and the internet, and will cease offering their free signal and join the rest of the cable stations. It may be a tad premature of me to predict the on-screen ads will die with their move to cable but the improved revenue stream should provide for surfing less choppy, flotsam waters.
I don't know if this will work but:
Sorry, I was trying to post a video of a show from Channel101 that makes me laugh. They make fun of those little ticker things. You can watch it here:
the tv show Modern Family just had a great episode in which the new iPad played an important role in the plot. That's the way to handle in-content advertising and oroduct placement -- work with the show's creative team, respect your adience. Don't treat them like dumb sheep just staring at the screen waiting to view your silly commercial. Treat them like an intelligent audience that is watching television for some escapist entertainment
I find there are so many commercial on US TV, that I usually watch two shows at once. In Bulgaria, the channels selling subtitled US show either had to fill the excess ad time at the end of the show with music videos to make the 40 minute show last an hour, or run their programs on an odd schedule (8:00, 8:40, 9:20, 10, etc) . And the ads we did get to watch were funny, particularly the Romanian condom ad.
Isn't it bad enough, that an hour program is not reduced to less than thirty minutes. I recently timed the sponsor breaks, and they were longer than the programming!
Now we get to have this blocking our view of the program we are watching. Have they already decided that since lost is ending, it is therefore already " LOST"? Whatever their reason, it had made me more tempted than ever to cancel my cable entirely, and stop watching tv!
Nick, thanks for writing this and calling attention to the problem. I can't stand advertising on television -- in any form whatsoever. Your mention of the iPad being integrated into the show is news to me. How clever of Apple. If all companies followed some more of Apple's ideas the world would be a better place (as I write on my new MacBook and ponder getting an iPad JUST for writing...)
I was trying to explain to my granddaughter why I don't like the intrusion of corporate names on everything from performing arts centers to ballparks. She didn't understand why since I have no problem with capitalism and 'the profit motive' for the selling of soap, etc. I finally realized why and summarized it with one word--- vulgarity. ..
"It's just flat out vulgar in some venues, baby girl! You wouldn't like it if Miss Piggy fell in love with Grover and they both had to wear a Metropolitan Life sign saying "This relationship brought to you by MetLife" whenever they appeared together, would ya? Of course not. Now go to sleep," my angel.
I agree wholeheartedly!