Wait a Second!

I’ve written here often about the question of who is going to pay for published video content. The traditional broadcast commercial model breaks down as people shift to other distribution sources, and use recorded video to time- and place-shift their viewing of the content. One of the biggest challenges is the fact that TiVo and other digital video recorders (DVRs) make it easy to skip the commercials. According to some reports, the number of people viewing broadcast commercials is plummetting.

General Electric has undertaken an interesting experiment specifically aimed at luring viewers to the company’s broadcast commercials. It’s called the One Second Theater, and you can find out more about it online. I actually stumbled across this while skipping commercials on our home DVR.

The One Second Theater stores a number of still images as individual frames in a standard commercial. At 30 frames per second, the dozen or so screens flash by so fast you may not even notice them. But pause your DVR at the right moment, and you can step through them frame by frame. (And if you don’t want to struggle with finding the right frames on the DVR, you can just go online and read the content there.)\

GE’s content is amusing but hardly compelling. I don’t expect that I’ll be checking weekly to see if they have posted any new installments. But the idea is intriguing; hide content and make it more difficult to view, rather than easier. Maybe viewers will want to put in the extra effort to find the “secret” content. I expect that the content could be made more compelling; hide special discount information, or make limited edition products available just through a special order number. And these frames could be hidden in the program content, not just in commercials, as a new form of “invisible” product placement that would cause people to search for them with their DVRs, as sort of a treasure hunt.

Maybe Max Headroom’s blipverts have finally arrived!