I realized something about myself on Sunday. Despite all my tiresome hyperbole about being a representative of the "new marketing" generation, there I was camped out in front of the television set, bowl of popcorn in hand, anxiously waiting for the next 4 straight hours of live, commercial packed network broadcasting.
And let’s be clear here, I sat through it all, almost single every one of those 30 seconds spots which I have claimed many times to be destined for the trash bin of history. Besides the occasional bio-break, I literally sat through 45 minutes of commercials. Once, I even raced back to the couch so as to not miss one of the funnier ones. That is more commercial consumption than I would normally take in a month. So why, you might ask, with my PVR right there and a general dislike of television advertising, would I do this to myself? One word. Sports. I love sports. And the Superbowl is the grandaddy of all sporting events, where the 30 second spot shines like a star on the red carpet of the Oscars.
Watching the spectacle got me to thinking. Maybe I’ve been too hard on the 30 second spot. Maybe there is, in fact, still life left for these commercials even in this new world of PVR’s and TIVO’s. That thinking then led me to an epiphany, a new prediction for the much maligned 30 second spot. My prediction was that there are at least 2 places where the 30 second spot will continue to live on and to thrive: Sports and News.
I use myself as a test case. I will PVR everything that I normally watch on television except two things, live news and live sports. Why? Because news isn’t new if I’m watching it on delay and sports doesn’t hold the same appeal if I already know the outcome. It’s like knowing the ending of a book before you read it only worse because all sports are essentially binary.
In case you were one of the few people who didn’t watch the game on Sunday, the New York Giants won, making history for a whole bunch of different reasons, and I got to watch it all happen. That real time experience was worth the 45 minutes of commercials I had to endure. I’ll even admit to enjoying many of them at the time and then forwarding the ones that I liked to other people so they can watch them from the 30 second spot "secondary" market, the Internet. It was like being reunited with an old friend.