The Pause That Astonishes

TiVo users have been aware for years that the company had found another revenue stream by selling banners that superimpose themselves on paused programs. Click the Select button on the TiVo remote and a previously downloaded commercial plays. But when is an ad superimposed on a paused show wildly inappropriate?

Take this Sunday's (Oct. 25) broadcast of Madam Secretary on CBS. The Secretary of State's daughter, Stephanie 'Stevie' McCord (the actress Wallis Currie-Wood, pictured), is selfie-photographed in the buff by the President's son with whom she's sharing the bed. She asks him to delete the photos, but he loses his phone. It's found by a disgruntled, former Secret Service agent who releases an embarrassing photo of the couple online with the suggestion of more to come.

That's when I paused my TiVo to walk the dog—only to be greeted by this screen overlay: "Order FREE photo prints from your phone!"

TiVo is rolling the dice when viewers hit Pause. The result here is product placement that's more context-specific than the advertiser likely ever intended (the advertiser being a photo-printing service with an app called PhotoAffections). Still, it was an amusing and ironic highlight of the show.

freality's picture

Cool story, bro.

trynberg's picture

How does TiVo justify putting ads in your face when you already have to purchase the box and then pay a monthly subscription on top of that? Insane.

samchitwood's picture

It's take it or leave it. Would I pay a nominal extra amount if I could make them disappear? Yes.

celticpride's picture

All you have do do is hit the clear button on the remote and it goes away instantly!

trynberg's picture

Unacceptable to me. One of the prime functions of a DVR to me is not having to watch ads.

Michaela's picture

Set in Chicago but filmed in New York, The Good Wife's protagonist, Alicia, is conferring in an office overlooking the No. 7 Flushing Line in Queens as they talk about suing for fraud. Good thing for producers of TV shows that they aren't held to the same standard as the fictional characters on the show. By the way, the Free Photo Printing offer appeared again when I hit pause. Maybe the company should offer me the ability to print paused screens from TiVo so I don't have to pull out my DSLR to document irony.