With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

If nothing else, I learned from Spider-Man that power comes at a price. And the price to be paid depends on the power given. So, we’ve been given the power of acting as a target TV family. (They asked us not to tell folks that we are doing this, because they don’t want us to be plied by network people trying to get us to watch their shows, so I’m not using the name of the company, but it rhymes with “Gielson”) They have installed a little device on our TV, which records all of the shows we watch, and categorizes them demographically. (There are separate buttons for me, for Py, and for Maya, so they can figure out who watches what and when.)

Here’s the nice man with our TV all torn up. Sad, huh?
Here’s the finished product…you can see that I’m watching Curtis (I’m the middle light there, the green one), and that Ted and Maya are not (they’re the red lights on either side of my green).
If you look at the top of the device, you can see that there is room for guests as well. So if friends or family come over to watch TV with us, we can tell it their genders and ages. We don’t have any family or friends over 99 years old, so we’re OK. If you’re over 100, though, there’s no way to tell it that, because the device only has room for two digits.
Look at the mess of equipment hiding behind our TV. Good thing we don’t have one of those fancy plasma flat screens installed into our wall, where there’s no room for the wires.
The first night we watched, it worked for awhile, then just up and quit on me. I wasn’t sure what had happened, so I called the guy and told him. He said he would send someone out the following day. Then, a few hours later, I was looking at it, and I realized that the device was plugged into the outlet that attaches to a light switch…and that light switch was off. Easy fix.

So now I’m enjoying the thought that we could somehow influence television for the better, just by the choices that we make over the next two years. That if I eschew American Idol, and instead watch Frontline, someone will notice and care. Pretty heady stuff. But here’s the rub. Some of the shows we really like? We don’t watch on TV. We end up watching them at our leisure, via the computer. So though Nance requested that we watch The Office, to keep it on the air…we do watch it, but almost never when it’s actually on. Same for one of Ted and Maya’s favorites, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. This is a two year gig, so does this mean that for 2 whole years we should alter our viewing habits to make sure we watch shows on TV rather than via Internet, to make sure they get counted? I guess not…I guess someone is tallying those downloads as well, so they’re being counted. So no worries there. But should we watch them in BOTH places, to give them more weight? And what about shows that we don’t actually watch, but I kinda want to count anyway? My mom is in love with the show, The Big Bang Theory. I watched it this week, and taped it for her, since she’s in the hospital and not guaranteed to be free and awake when it’s on. It’s not really my cup of tea, but I would like to count it for her, to do my part to keep it on the air. I kinda wish they still had the little diaries they used to hand out, so I could include the shows we watch, or wish we watched, even if it’s not on regular TV. I guess that’s what they’re trying to avoid with the box, huh? They think of everything. Sigh.

This entry was posted in TV.

18 thoughts on “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

  1. “This is a two year gig, so does this mean that for 2 whole years we should alter our viewing habits to make sure we watch shows on TV rather than via Internet, to make sure they get counted?”

    Umm…Yes, when it comes to “The Office” for Nance. duh. Come ON, Jules. This isn’t really about YOU, it’s about moi. LOL.

  2. Oh, the pressure!! So, on the days when I’m feeling like a vegetable and I indulge in the guilty pleasures of Rock of Love on VH1 or any one of the brainless Lifetime Melodramas that catch my attention – that would be counted?? Ugh, the guilt. I suppose after awhile you will forget it’s even there…..which is what they are hoping for.

    I second the request that you watch The Office, though – I LOVE that show.

    Have a great day.

  3. I would just watch as you normally do. Those are the shows that you make time in your life to actually sit down and watch. Fun to be a “Gielson” family!

  4. I used to think it might be fun to be a “Geilson” family, not so sure now. I pretty much don’t watch anything anymore. Except for Medium. It’s ok if you don’t want to watch it. I’ll still be your friend πŸ™‚

  5. You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that someone would pay attention and take into a account the shows I’m watching! If only the networks knew that I was watching “Journeyman” before they yanked it off the air…maybe they would have thought twice (or maybe not).

    Use your power wisely!! Watch “Lost”!! πŸ˜€

  6. I agree that you should just continue as usual. I mean, that is really the data they are trying to collect.

    Too bad you didn’t get free fancy cable with the deal!

  7. One more thing: About Beowulf…I was really surprised that they used the image of Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother. I usually try to avoid sensationalized Hollywood flicks, but I was at a friend’s house and that was the DVD he chose.

    I find it interesting to see how classic pieces of literature are adapted into popular film. Usually, I end up disappointed because the original works are almost always better than the film.

    Even though I’m a bit biased, I must admit that at least by putting something like Beowulf into an animated movie, it gets the story out there to those who would have probably not have otherwise heard of it. I asked my friend if he liked the movie and he said that if it weren’t animated, it would probably rank up there with The Gladiator for him. He had never read Beowulf before and knew nothing of the story, so the movie was great for him.

    Okay, enough babbling. Can’t you tell I’ve been away from the blog world for way too long??? πŸ˜‰

    I think it’s really neat that your family will be able to have a hand in influencing what people watch on TV. There’s so much junk on TV these days…but there are also some really wonderful programs out there too.

  8. Very cool. Our family once did that – before they hooked up electronics to the TV. You had to fill out a little log book with what you viewed. Not fun. This new electronic gig is the way to go.

    I’m glad you figured out the light-switch thing. We have a light switch that we have no idea what it might control, try as we might to figure it out. (Maybe we’re turning on the neighbors lights?)


  9. Boy that’s high tech. I did the ratings one time, and it was the paper tracker kind. It’s cool that your family gets to do it.

    I really like the Sarah Connor Chronicles, too, and never was a terminator fan. The series appealed a lot more, some how. I like Summer Lau.

  10. I can’t get over all those wires!!!! Don’t worry about pressure… it’s funny that you almost already change your patterns as soon as you know someone is watching LOL!

    And yes, that is clearly discriminatng against those over 100 πŸ˜‰

  11. The radio industry is going to a pager-like device called “The Portable People Meter” which a person wears for, yes, two years. They still have diaries that are in most markets, but the PPM will be the way radio gathers listening habits data in the future.

  12. Oooh-oooh. I just thought of something, Julie.

    What if you had Tivo? How would they account for watching recorded programs? Or, would they?

    We tivo a lot of programs to watch later.

    And, what if you household has multiple TV sets?

    I’m just sayin’….


  13. How did you get hooked up so your TV watching is counted? I totally want to do that. How do I reach them?

  14. Jenny, I don’t know how they pick…in our case, they just came to the door, and I was home at the time. πŸ™‚

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