Tens of millions of dollars on both sides spent primarily on television ads – and that’s not factoring in the SuperPACs. Constant complaints on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and in-person about how thoroughly disgusted people are with the quantity (and quality) of the political ads. Yet, I can count on both hands the number of televised recall ads that I’ve seen. Here’s why.
I watch virtually no local or network television. The bulk of the spending is going to the stations that Nielsen dictates will reach the widest audience. That strategy makes perfect sense, but not if they’re trying to reach someone like me with their message. As the quality of offerings on niche cable channels has grown, I find myself watching less and less of the generic reworked crap that debuts on network TV each fall.
That makes a big difference in my not seeing political ads, but I see fewer ads overall simply because nearly everything I watch on cable has already aired and I’m watching it DVRed. I’ve got young kids, so I almost never watch anything live. Unless it’s aired on PBS Kids, the only television watching I do is after they’ve gone to bed for the night or while they’re napping. As you might imagine, that doesn’t always coordinate with when the shows I enjoy originally air. I’m sure there are network executives out there who think that the glimpses I see of a product while fast forwarding through it at 4x speeds somehow leaves an imprint on my brain, but that applies even less so to political ads.
The third and quite possibly largest reason that I seem to be able to avoid the onslaught of political ads, as well as commercials in general, is Internet-to-TV streaming from my Roku. Since we first got the Roku a few months ago, the amount of time it has spent streaming things like Netflix, HBO GO, and TED Talks has increased with each passing week. It’s rapidly approaching the point where the Roku is doing more work than our cable box. Among the perks of a piece of technology like this is an almost complete lack of commercials or other advertisements.
My television viewing habits certainly aren’t the norm, but they allow me to more or less dodge a majority of commercials. I honestly hadn’t noticed how many fewer commercials I was seeing until Wisconsin was bombarded by political ads that I wasn’t seeing. It’s just a matter of time before advertisers manage to find a way to target people like me once again, but until then I’ll just sit back, fast forward through DVRed shows, and enjoy the streaming options that the Roku has to offer.