Which Type Of Ad-Skipper Are You?

While we sift through the mountain of nominations for this year’s Worst Ad In America Awards, one thing has become very clear — y’all hate TV commercials and are doing whatever you can to avoid them.

But then we got to debating the various ways in which TV-watching consumers choose to skip over or ignore ad breaks and came up with the following classifications:

1. THE CASUAL SKIMMER: You’re the person who isn’t terribly bothered by commercials, so even when you watch the occasional DVR’d program, you’re not rushing to hit any buttons. Unless it’s one of Fox’s seemingly infinite number of Gordon Ramsay shows where every commercial break is treated like a shocking cliffhanger, and you simply need to know which inept cook is going to be kicked out of the kitchen.

2. THE MUTE MASTER: You either watch a lot of live TV or just don’t feel like going through the hassle of fast-forwarding, but your thumb knows exactly where that “mute” button is on your remote. Mute Masters are most frequently found watching live sporting events, where commercial breaks are predictable — and the same ads are in rotation every few minutes.

2a. THE PEE-BREAKER: This is a subtle variation on the Mute Master, in which, rather than mute your TV, you find other things to do during your 2-7 minutes of commercial time. From a quick trip to the toilet to checking Facebook to making a quick check around the house to make sure your children haven’t blown anything up; whatever you do, it won’t involve idly waiting for the ads to end.

3. THE BULL IN THE CHINA SHOP: You can’t get through the ad break fast enough and you don’t care if you overshoot the beginning of the next segment. This usually involves the use of the highest fast-forward speed available on your DVR, or the repeated pressing of the “30 sec ahead” button. For many reality competition-type shows, it does no harm to your experience as the first minute of each new segment is usually just a recap of the last minute of the previous segment.

4. THE MATRIX: You fast-forward through the ads at a rapid rate but you’re also paying attention, scanning the ads and deciphering the telltale signs that the commercial break is ending. You also absorb some of the information as you scan, so you know when that new movie your boyfriend wants to see is coming out and you didn’t even have to slow down.

5. THE ZERO-TOLERANCE POLICY: You record everything, even live events that everyone else watches as they occur, because you refuse to give over any of your time to promotional consideration. You even fast-forward through advertorial segments on shows like Biggest Loser when they discuss how low-fat but absolutely yummy some brand of turkey meatball is.

6. THE HOPPER: You sit around in a crowded house with other regional stereotypes, yelling at each other and wondering why you can no longer watch Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead.

So which type are you? Or maybe we missed some categories. Feel free to share away in the comments.


Edit Your Comment

  1. eezy-peezy says:

    You forgot the C-SPANNER. Have C-span (no ads) on alt. channel and switch during ads. DH does this and I have not seen an ad in years.

  2. raydeebug says:

    The “Wait for the DVD/Streaming option to be available.”

    When I still watched live TV, I’d usually get up and do something during commercial breaks. I don’t have time these days to keep with a network’s schedule, so usually if there’s a show I follow, I can wait for the DVD.

    • fraterormus says:

      “Wait for DVD/Blu-Ray” is *NOT* a way to avoid the commercial breaks! Instead of having 3 min of commercials every 10 minutes like Broadcast TV they instead give you 30 minutes of MANDATORY commercials that you can’t skip at the beginning of the DVD/Blu-Ray…to where you have to resort to Piracy and/or Cracking DRM just to watch the content you bought and paid for legitimately without wasting a half hour with unskippable commercials at the beginning!

      Streaming is the way to go if you have Netflix or Amazon Prime, but even the paid Hulu Plus has so many commercial interruptions that it is a waste of time and money to go that route.

      Granted, the more that consumers find ways to avoid paid advertising (which Ted Turner believes should be a criminal Felony act) the more that advertisers are going to use in-content advertising instead, and that would be much worse (it’s already pretty bad with Apple, Dell, Nike, GM, and McDonald’s product placements in 99% of the viewable content out there).

  3. Scooter McGee says:

    The Mute Master, also effective for any time John Madden is talking.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    No voting option? Seems the absolute must thing to do in this case.

  5. Sean says:

    I watch almost no broadcast/cable TV. I watch a lot of YouTube, Netflix and other online programming. Most of them have no commercials.

    What annoys me about commercials specifically is 30 seconds after the commercial is over you can’t remember what the ad was for. In other words most commercials are not very effective at all. What annoys me about commercials in general is the commercial breaks are way too darn long. You almost lose interest in the program.

    • raydeebug says:

      Yeah. I remember times where I’d be in the middle of a commercial break and forget that I was watching an actual show. I’d get up and wander off and by the time I remembered and came back, someone had changed the channel or my show was over.

  6. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    The only thing I don’t record is live sports, and even then commercials are still muted. Otherwise I only watch shows I’ve recorded and FF through all commercials.

    In the car, all radio commercials prompt a change of channel – luckily I have about 6 stations in my area that might be playing something I like at any given time.

    • lemur says:

      I record even live sports.

      The way I do it is figure when I should start watching so that I can benefit from skipping ads *and* still finish up around the same time as the live broadcast. My viewing usually catches up with the live broadcast a bit earlier than the end of the broadcast.

      Mind you, the only sport I watch is car racing. Maybe I wouldn’t do this if I were watching other sports.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        The only reason I don’t do that is because I mute the TV and listen to the radio broadcast. Especially with baseball, the local team’s TV guys are intolerable but the radio play-by-play guys are excellent.

      • longfeltwant says:

        Oh, it’s even better if you’re watching car racing. Then you can skip the commercials plus fast forward through all the rest of it. You only need to go to normal speed for extraordinary events (crashes, interviews, champagne).

  7. Mr_Magoo says:

    I consider myself more of an Ad-Gilligan.

  8. MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

    Zero-Tolerance…with reality shows (mostly about food or travel), I even start fast forwarding as soon as they say “Coming up next on…[badoop-badoop-badoop!]”, and try to time it to skip the inevitable 5-second recap after the break.

    • StarKillerX says:

      That’s me as well, If I must see something right away that’s on at say 10pm I’ll start watching the recording at about 10:20 so by the time I catch up to the the broadcast it’s ending.

      • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

        Yep, our favorite shows that we can’t wait to watch, we’ll time it and wait until 18-20 minutes after the hour (for an hour-long show) so we don’t have to sit through commercials.

  9. Applekid says:

    The Matrix. Definitely. On the channels I like to watch, there’s generally a “station” advertisement, like one for a different show, right at the very end of all the other ads and right before they return to program.

    • VintageLydia says:

      Exactly. I’ve become a pro. My husband is the bull in a china shop, though, which annoys me. I hate having to rewind and end up watching the promo he skipped anyway.

  10. wombats lives in [redacted] says:

    Due to hulu’s very short (some show non-existent) commercial breaks, I usually sit through. There were a few commercials which required the mute, and ridicule everything related to the atrocity on the screen method.

  11. dicobalt says:

    You need a 7th category for me: The so sick of avoiding commercials I quit watching TV completely.

    • dangermike says:

      More and more, I find myself in this camp. It started with channel changing and forgetting to return to the station I meant to be watching then progressed into turning my attention to my laptop and realizing the show I wanted to watch had been over for an hour or two to just not turning on the TV and just playing some music in the background instead.

    • longfeltwant says:

      I quit watching TV for the most part a long time ago, but I still continue to watch and enjoy some TV shows. I just get them other ways. Same with radio. I like NPR, but live NPR is not compelling. NPR podcasts, on the other hand, are okay.

      People around here seem to like Hulu, but I gave up Hulu as soon as they put the first ad on it.

      Just charge me to watch the show, okay? It’s simple. Make a good show and sell it to me. I don’t understand why we need to have advertising messing everything up.

  12. Chmeeee says:

    My TiVo has kind of an autocorrect type feature on the fast forward that makes #3 look like a #4. Overshoot by about 10 seconds on max speed, hit play, and it start playing at about the time when your eyes saw the show start rather than when your brain finally got the signal to your fingers.

    I just hate it when the first scene after the break looks more like a commercial than the show.

  13. InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

    For live soccer matches (that being one of the few things I watch live), the commercial breaks are predictable and only happen once during the actual game, so that when I go do something else. Most other shows are on DVR, so generally it’s “The Matrix” method for me, unless I’m knitting and thus have my hands full.

    • JEDIDIAH says:

      For sporting events or any other “live TV”, I like to start watching late so that I can skip through the commercials and not “catch up”.

  14. elangomatt says:

    I guess I am mostly a bull in the china shop (stupid phrase by the way, Mythbusters showed that bulls in a china shop are actually surprisingly careful and nimble enough not to knock much over). I use the 30 second ahead button, but when I get to the show I use the 15 second back button so I can catch the beginning of the segment. Most of the time go back 15 seconds is good enough, but not always.

    I have been known to do the matrix method too, but too many channels have been putting their promos in the middle of the commercial breaks lately whereas that used to be the telltale sign that the commercial break was about to end.

  15. BurtReynolds says:

    Usually watch Netflix, but if I am watching regular TV I usually record it to skip every commercial. I will overrun and backup to catch the beginning after the break.

  16. giax says:

    7. Get the episodes from iTunes when possible so they don’t have ads.

    For stuff that’s on TV… I don’t mind about 40 % of the ads. But too many are dumb or pointless, and some are traumatizing. When I see a traumatizing ad (e.g. the ad of Lowe’s from 1-2 y ago? with a young couple who ‘bought their house and had no clue what they were doing’, and who then did a lot of dumb stuff and were really loud for the whole ad), I first of all will avoid the product (I don’t think I’ll ever visit Lowe’s thanks to that ad), and secondly, I will get the channel up or down just to save my nerves. Of course, the break can and will also be used for other purposes, such as breaks.

    For radio ads – zero tolerance. At least when I hear the radio ads that are 10 minutes long and that seem to be a talk show but where they just keep talking about how great some product is. I hate those, and since I can’t filter them out so I could not hear them at all, I try another channel or switch it off.

    The exception to the TV ads rule is Superbowl. This year, we recorded it, so we could skip all the sports parts and watch just the ads.

  17. axolotl says:


  18. impatientgirl says:

    The Matrix. We are good.

  19. tripleelbow says:

    Zero-Tolerance. It just comes down to efficiency. When 1/3 of these shows are ads (or more, with in-show promotional segments as mentioned (AGT’s “Snapple Lounge” and “Orville Redenbacher Lounge”, etc), you can just plow through more shows in less time. You can watch 3 primetime hour-long shows in 2 hours. Even if I’m going to watch something the night it airs, I’ll still wait 20 minutes after it starts (or 40 minutes for a 2 hour show), just so I can skip the commercials and do something else in that time.

  20. Dave on bass says:

    I only have Netflix and Hulu these days. I’m a pee-breaker (or other quick-task undertaker) during Hulu ad breaks.

  21. Tacojelly says:

    The Hopper is funny.

    Is it wrong to appreciate ads for the mini movies that they are? Yes premises are often dumb, and the repetition is sometimes unbarable, but I see more inventive film techniques in some ads these days then I do in feature films.

  22. macemoneta says:

    ZERO-TOLERANCE; they can put (skippable) ads before the content (pre-roll), but not during. Content interruptions are not acceptable, in any way shape or form, even if specifically targeted to my interests. Everything I watch is online, pre-recorded, or on DVD for that reason.

    • longfeltwant says:

      Srsly. Yesterday I had the Dem convention on (a excursion trip to live TV) and since the TV was on I got sucked into an episode of Law & Order. I love L&O! I have watched dozens of episodes on Netflix. It’s so comfortingly formulaic and predictable. I was annoyed at the commercials, true, but I muted those. But then in the middle of the episode I needed to go downstairs to get something for the task I was working on and I instinctively attempted to pause the show, like I would for NetFlix…

      Sheesh, live TV is just not a very compelling medium. I’m honestly surprised it continues to be the worldwide leading media format.

      • nybiker says:

        I’ve tried to hit the pause button like that too, glad to see I’m not the only one. Netflix with Roku rules.

  23. JEDIDIAH says:

    My PVR skips all of the commercials for me.

    If part of a show or event it boring I can skip past that too.

  24. hjc628 says:

    When I have to watch live TV, I always have a “flip to’ channel that is a movie channel. I HATE commercials.

  25. Abradax says:

    I’m the surfer.

    I channel change and watch other programming during commercials. Sometimes I become engrossed in more than one show and swap back and forth between them each commercial break, missing key points in both shows. But hey, I saw them both.

  26. Overman says:

    You can call it theft, but 8 years ago I migrated to Bit Torrent for all content.
    Its less about stealing, since most shows I d/l are broadcast.
    No one post files with ads, it takes up too much data.
    I’ve been ad free since ’04.
    Let dish and AMC fight it out, I’m still paying Comcast as a media provider.
    MPAA can get their money from them.

    • longfeltwant says:

      Doesn’t it make you wish they would just… you know… sell you access to the show? Hey, tv station, I’ll pay you the same amount to watch your show that advertisers pay you to show it to me. What do you say? No? Huh, okay, I guess I’ll just download it, but golly it seems like you’re the big loser in that situation.

  27. longfeltwant says:

    Zero Tolerance. Not only do I watch 100% of my shows from DVD, I don’t even watch the DVDs because of the unskippable content. Rather, I rip DVDs to file, then watch the files — plus I’ve never even once purchased a DVD, I get them exclusively from NetFlix or from friends. I use AdBlock on the web. I don’t listen to commercial radio, which now even includes NPR. Instead of radio I listen to podcasts, and I skip over ads in podcasts. I avoid podcasts with lots of ads. I buy generic foods, which come with less offensive packaging. I remove cereal and crackers (in bags) from the boxes when I get home from the grocery store and discard the boxes. I don’t go to the movie theater very often because of the pre-movie ads (and other reasons). I wear almost no ads on my clothing (including logos). I pay full retail price to avoid sales gimmicks.

    I do all that, yet I still live a life full of advertisements. Some things I want so badly that I put up with the attendant ads. I haven’t decided to give up leaving my house, so I’m constantly confronted by billboards and bumper stickers. There are ads on people’s tshirts and sneakers, and I don’t want to stop having friends. There are ads on pieces of fruit, and I like fruit.

    The best example of all is football, or sports in general. NFL won’t sell me football, they insist on selling me to advertisers. I don’t like that arrangement, but I prefer it to doing without football. I still mute the commercials, though.


  28. Siro says:

    I don’t have cable, as it always seemed silly to pay for ad supported content, and generally don’t watch live TV. Advertisers pretty much destroyed the whole live TV thing with the various loudness campaigns to see who could get the loudest commercials broadcast. So I watch stuff streamed online (with ad blocking plugins that skip over the ads in the stream seamlessly) or buy stuff as seasons.

    If an advertiser really wants me to buy their product, they just need to actually have a superior product and then have a well maintained website that has easily accessible information about their product. That way, when I have a need and go do research on how best to fill that need, the information will be there.

    • longfeltwant says:

      “it always seemed silly to pay for ad supported content”

      Ha! I grew up in a household too poor to pay for cable. The first time I ever saw cable TV was at a friend’s house. When an advertisement came on, I turned to him as a young child and remember asking him why were there ads? Don’t you pay for these shows?

      I’ve never thought anything different about that. I didn’t choose to hate ads, I was born hating ads.

  29. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I’m a pee-breaker but if I don’t have anything to do during the commercial, I just leave it on and ignore it. I’m usually on the internet while watching TV anyway. The problem comes when I get absorbed in surfing and don’t realize the show is back on. When watching them on a network website, I just grit my teeth and wait. There’s no way to fast forward but the commercials are mercifully short.

    Radio commercials bug me. There are too many of them and not enough music. So I don’t listen to the radio anymore unless there are funnel clouds floating around.

  30. scoosdad says:

    What I call “commercial density” is getting so bad these days on basic cable channels that it’s almost certain that when you switch channels during a commercial break on one channel, you’ll land in the middle of a commercial break on a different channel. It becomes a game to see if you can pick a new channel to land on that is currently showing a bit of the program and not a ad break.

    Easier in the first few minutes after the hour or half hour, but after that all bets are off.

    • nybiker says:

      Well, when an hour-long block only has 42 minutes of actual watchable content, it’s not surprising that you’re going to see ads on the other channels too. Most breaks occur every 6 or 7 minutes. And with most breaks themselves at least 3 minutes, yeah, there’s nowhere to hide.

  31. Lombard Montague says:

    Absolutely zero tolerance. That one describes me to a T. I refuse to pay to be advertised to. Sporting events are at least 15 minutes away from being live. My DVR remote has a 5 minute skip button that is used quite frequently.

  32. ScandalMgr says:

    I might regret posting this if Via Kom actually reads this, but here it goes:

    When I watch TV online http://www.dailyshow.com/ full episodes, using Google Chrome browser with Ad Block + installed, there are no commercials. None. Well, ok, occasionally, the ComedyCentral server sends out an ad, but, juust saying…

    When surfing web pages, I also don’t see ads due to the same plugin.

  33. Cream Of Meat says:

    I shoot myself in the face every time I see a commercial, by the time I’m healed and out of the hospital (3-6 months) the ad is over!

    Fuck ads. I have never, and will never buy something triggered by an ad.

  34. speaky2k says:

    You forgot the channel changer. If I am watching TV (I don’t have a DVR or cable) and I don’t want to watch commercials, I start flipping channels until I either find something else to watch or I am back around to the original.

  35. Kaonashi says:

    2 and/or 2a when I’m stuck watching things live and 3 when I have things DVRed with the caveat that I generally will go back to at least close to the place where the program starts up again unless it’s one of those annoying scene-break return s where they recap.

  36. Black Knight Rebel says:

    I’ve got my PSP Go and a set of earphones with me while I watch broadcast TV.

    When the commercial hits I throw on my earphones and just play a game for a few minutes. When the show starts again I just flip the PSP Go into sleep mode and I can pick up exactly where I left off during the last commercial.

    You can polish off a surprising amount of video game during a single show, and even more when watching a Movie on broadcast. If I don’t have it on me at the moment I can usually stand a couple of commercials but if it drags on I’ll go find my trusty PSP and be prepared for the next volley >:D

  37. McNuggz says:

    Cancelled cable about 6 years ago due to advertisements. Why am I going to pay for someone to sell me something? If I pay, it should be ad free. I started using bunny ears, but the ads are so annoying. I usually change channels when an ad comes on and I never go back.

    PBS is about the only channel I can watch.

  38. NotEd says:

    Mtrix, whatever that really means.
    I bullet time right thru the commercials, sometimes overshooting the start of the show, but skiping back before I ruin it for myself.
    My wife, who says she likes the commercials is now well used to me giving her a disapproving stare before finally bugging her for the remote when we watch DVR’d shows together.
    On the rare occasion I watch something live I will either pause or let the show keep going and take a potty break, let out the dogs, make lunch for tomorrow, etc, skipping forward or back to get where I need be depending on my method.
    If I don’t need to check something elsewhere, I am usually at my PC anyways, so I just go thru emails or surf until the show comes back on.

  39. Sian says:

    I download 80% of my TV now.

    The stuff I do watch, it’s easy to figure out just how many times I need to hit the 20 second skip to get through the break.

    also, commercials are still blastingly loud compared to the programming. Didn’t that law pass and get signed by Obama?

  40. Geekybiker says:

    Zero Tolerence. I don’t like watching shows until I buffer enough not to have to suffer through any commercials.

  41. Jay911 says:

    4 with elements of 5. My father DVRs the news and baseball games, even if he’s going to watch them right away, and just starts watching them a half-hour late or so, so he doesn’t have to put up with commercials. He frequently skips too far ahead and has to jump back a couple button-pushes, but I know that local ads and ads for the network precede a return to programming, and that’s when to stop skipping ahead.

  42. Not Given says:

    On VHS I used to fast forward through the soap opera party scenes where everyone stood around rehashing what had happened for the last 6 months. I think my record was 3 hours of soaps in 75 minutes.

  43. SilverBlade2k says:

    I’m a Matrix skipper. I want to know when the commercial is going to end.

  44. JusticeGustine says:

    Live TV Time Bender

    Watches while DVR is recording the show. Start about 10 to 15 minutes after the scheduled start and fast forward through the ads, finishing at the show’s normal end time.

    I’ll never watch a movie on anything but premium channels or DVDs. The ads or editing or both ruin them.

  45. Unknownable says:

    The Matrix, I’ve “keyed in” on the tell-tale signs for the channels I watch….
    my favorite channel, BBC America, cause they always run a commercial for one of their shows, just before going back to the main show. I also entertain myself while fast-forwarding, by either deciphering what the people in the commercials are saying, or by identifying the various persuasive techniques that they use.

  46. LEDZEPPELIN24 says:

    If people would buy a tv that can record VHS, and get those 6 hour tapes on Ebay, and use the channel guide to know when to start and stop a recording, or progam it to record at a certain time if you know how, we could do so much better, and those tapes are so cheap they are better than getting an external hardrive for DVR cuz you record so many shows. And they can’t put those ads on the screen like in DVR when you FF on DirecTV. And I always loved VHS’s. GO OLD SCHOOL!

  47. Random Lurker says:

    #5. Definately zero tolerance. I even have a script blocker installed in my browser so I won’t see any ads, popups, sounds, or, well, anything at all unless I allow it.

    My wife gets annoyed with me when we watch TV.

  48. wren337 says:

    #7 Comskip Playback. Commercials just disappear entirely and you don’t have to do anything. As a side note, I’ve had this since before my kids were born – my 10 year old has never lived in a world where TV shows have commercials. You should see her at her grandparents house when a commercial break starts, the confusion and the anger.

  49. LaurelHS says:

    I’m a Mute Master. I usually play music during commercials.

  50. Rockfish says:

    Not only do I skip all ads with a vengeance, I absolutely refuse to watch any show “spamvertized” with one of those annoying web bugs at the bottom of the screen while I’m trying to watch a show. I often visit the website of the offending broadcaster and tell them that their show *might* have been on my list of “must watch” shows this fall, but they chose to annoy me with incessant animated ads during a show I was watching and they have just lost a potential viewer.

  51. bishkumak says:

    I just dumped TV completely. Now I try to use an online service to watch TV shows, or go to the station websites. If neither are an option, I just wait until a full season is sold on physical media or through aforementioned online service(s).

  52. axiomatic says:

    I am “THE MATRIX” most of the time. Then again I am also sometimes “THE ZERO-TOLERANCE POLICY.” If you are a normal show with normal 3 min breaks in the show I will be “THE MATRIX” for you… but if you start the show at 7:58pm and have strange 7 minute breaks all just to screw up my DVR, then your show gets watched on the Windows Media Center where your commercials are auto-magically removed and I never knew they existed in a “THE ZERO-TOLERANCE POLICY x3” kind of way. During sports though I am happy to be “THE CASUAL SKIMMER.”