This story mentions “couch potatoes.” Luckily this story isn’t a report, or I’d have a huge problem with it!

PVRs allow couch potatoes to make better use of their time
TORONTO (CP) – No more missing crucial moments of your favourite television shows just because your bais crying or your mother-in-law calls. PVRs, or personal video recorders, allow TV addicts to, among other things, make television wait while real life beckons.
By the end of this year, experts predict 150,000 homes in Canada will be equipped with these leisure time-altering gadgets.
The PVR, about the size of a video DVD player, has a computer hard drive that allows the viewer to record television programs onto the drive as opposed to a tape. With a few simple manoeuvres of the remote, viewers can see a list of shows recorded on the hard drive, which can be watched without the fuss of rewinding.
And when viewers watch their favourite show, they can hit the pause button. This way they can soothe baby, answer the phone or use the washroom without missing crucial plot twists. When they’re finished with the task that interrupted the program, they can simply hit play and resume watching CSI’s showing of a bullet’s trajectory into a victim’s skull.
“Consumers can literally watch what they want to, when they want to and they don’t have to worry about start times or missing one of their favourite shows,” said Michael Lee, vice-president of strategy and development at Rogers Communications Inc.
And while advertisers might not appreciate it, viewers can fast forward through the commercials and catch up to the program in real time.
In effect, PVRs allow couch potatoes to make more efficient use of their TV time.
“Anyone who has used a PVR knows it’s a fantastic device. It really does change the way you watch television,” said Brahm Eiley, president of the Convergence Consulting Group. “The Internet has changed the way we get information and the television is now going through the same revolution. It’s effectively going to be programming on demand.”
Canada is a little behind in the technology as this only became available here in 2001, while the U.S. has had TiVo and ReplayTV since the late ’90s.
Cable television in the U.S. had video on demand, and consumers had a voracious appetite. To compete, satellite companies in the U.S. started offering PVRs to their customers at very affordable prices – some as low as $5 US a month or $100 to buy. Then American cable companies had to offer PVRs as well, at competitive prices, said Eiley, author of The Battle for the North American Couch Potato, an extensive report on the strategies of the largest cable and telecommunications providers in Canada and the U.S.
Canadian companies didn’t subsidize the price as much as U.S. companies.
When Bell ExpressVu launched the recording device in 2001, it was in excess of $600 and renting wasn’t an option. Bell has since made PVRs available for a monthly rental fee.
Cable companies caught up. Rogers Cable launched its PVR technology in November 2003 and Shaw Communications Inc. made high definition PVRs available to their cable customers this year.
Star Choice, Shaw’s satellite arm, will probably have high definition PVRs available to its subscribers January of next year, said Peter Bissonnette, president of Shaw Communications Inc.
Now prices can run anywhere from $15 per month to rent the box to roughly $600 to purchase a high definition PVR.
By the end of this year Eiley’s report predicts there will be seven million PVRs in the United States. In Canada, he predicts 150,000.
“If you look to the U.S., they were virtually giving away PVRs to their customers and so the penetration of them would be much higher virtue of taking that approach,” said Bissonnette.
Depending on where it’s purchased or rented, the PVR allows viewers to watch one program while recording another. Some PVRs have the PIP function, which allows viewers to watch two shows at once. The screen shows one channel along with a smaller picture or another channel, in effect solving the dilemma of whether to watch the game or the Ewan McGregor film you didn’t catch at the theatre.
Users can record between 35 to 80 hours of viewing depending on who the PVR provider is and how many shows are programmed in the memory. For example if you want a store of Spider-Man and SpongeBob cartoons for keeping children happily occupied while dinner is being prepared, you can program the PVR and every Spider-Man and SpongeBob episode will appear on your list of stored items.
One of the few downsides is the PVR is only as good as the programming schedule. If the movie you want to see is scheduled to run between 8 and 10 p.m., but starts a few minutes late and runs over 10 p.m., you will be disappointed with a movie that ends before the plot is complete. Imagine Casablanca or the Sixth Sense without the last five minutes. And forget playoff games, as the PVR does not recognize sudden death overtime.
Still, even before programming wrinkles are ironed out, industry watchers believe Canadians will clamour for the technology.
“We think there’ll be more than 300,000 (PVRs) in 2005 and we think those numbers will double in 2006 because they’ve now finally started to bring down prices and there are rental options,” said Eiley.