In the Sky+ using households we interviewed, it was clear that the technology had had a major impact on how television was watched and arranged. For 8 of the 9 Sky+ households we interviewed they had moved almost entirely to watching pre-recorded shows from the PVR. Some interviewees even struggled to name the last show they had watched on live TV. This was a large contrast with the VCR users, who recorded only on average 2 shows a week, compared to 7 new shows a week for our Sky+ users.
Rather than channel surfing to find suitable TV to watch, viewers would ‘queue up’ recordings to be watched from the episode guide, or automatically record entire series using ‘season passes’. Through maintaining a sufficient buffer of recorded shows, TV watching then took place almost entirely from the archive of shows that was collected. In this way programming watching was decoupled from when shows are broadcast.
For those who worked or lived on different timecycles from that of ‘standard’ TV, this was particularly valuable. For one viewer who worked shifts as a bar manager, the PVR meant he could watch ‘primetime’ TV early in the morning when he came in from work. For a family with children, they could watch their favourite soap operas in the late evening when they had put their kids to bed. The random access nature of PVRs, however, also supported practices that went beyond simple timeshifting. For example, by allowing viewers to start and stop recordings quickly, without loosing their position in a recording, multiple films or shows could also be ‘grazed’ with viewers moving between multiple shows, before deciding on a show to watch. Viewers also often collected an archive of the same show that would allow multiple episodes to be collected together for viewing in one sitting. An evenings TV would then be selected from the store of a complete series.
(…) The ability to record two channels simultaneously (offered by Sky+ and the DirectTV TiVo) thus develops more value with the use of season passes.
The television will be revolutionized: effects of PVRs and filesharing on television watching, Barry Brown, Louise Barkhuus, CHI ’06 Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in computing systems, ACM New York, USA 2006