I'm not a big TV watcher. I like the occasional GSN program, The Office, of course, some ball games, and my HBO shows, but other than that, I'd rather watch my 10-month-old because he's a) less predictable, b) funnier, and c) doesn't make me sit through snipes, bugs and data dumps.
Who's with me on this growing trend? Honestly, it's like one day all the networks had a powwow and some young exec cajoled everyone into slapping these untoward things all over our screens.
Let's break down the categories:
These are animated advertisements that zoom on, pop up, twirl through or explode around the lower-third of the screen. Usually they're promos for upcoming programs or sometimes ads for products by the sponsors.
These are the annoying channel logos which seem to be growing in size every time I turn on the tube. I don't mind them so much when the opacity is cranked down to near transparency, but have you seen NBC's lately? Man-o-man! That moving peacock thing is such a distraction, no?
3. Data Dumps
According to Wiki, crawling news, or data dumps, debuted long before the 24-hour news networks took over. "The first record of a news ticker as part of a regular broadcast is from NBC's Today show on its debut edition, January 14, 1952. Without the benefit of computer-generated headlines and graphics, the ticker was vastly different than the one we would know today. The Today ticker was an actual piece of paper with typewritten headlines superimposed on the lower third of the screen. The ticker was never very successful as a communications tool, and was dropped not long thereafter."
Of course, today, it seems every station has a crawl or two. Have you seen ESPN News in HD? It's filled with horizontal crawls, vertical crawl spaces, BREAKING NEWS alerts! that come and go with forced urgency, and tabs that move atop the picture. I'm telling you, it makes Bloomberg look like PBS.
Soon, if the networks have their way, the viewing space will be a 2x3 square, freeing up the rest of the screen for ads because everyone will have TiVo, or its equivalent.
So what's the antidote smart readers? We need some solutions to this unsettling trend, and fast.