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Broadcast Clutter or Interesting Content?

Many cable-television channels and satellite radio services have created a profitable niche for one simple reason: They carry no commercials, which a lot of viewers and listeners find intrusive, loud and distasteful. To these people's delight, products like TiVo, a digital video recorder, came along. They record program content while wiping away the annoying advertising.

But this might come as a shock to you and those who hate commercials. Not only do millions of people tolerate them, others actually enjoy them, find them informative and go out of their way to hear them. People searching for a new car, for instance, pay close attention to automobile ads. And because some television commercials, in particular, are funny or visually imaginative, they can develop a following of their own. Millions of people who are not even sports fans, for instance, watch pro football's championship Super Bowl Game just to see the new and often ingenious commercials.

And here's the ultimate destination for those who love broadcast ads: It's something called advertising on demand. Subscribers to many cable television systems can go to a particular channel that carries commercials from the cable company's sponsors. Often these are longer, more informative, custom-made "spots," as broadcast ads are sometimes called, made just for this channel.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for instance, cable subscribers who hate commercials can go to the on-demand channel and watch shows they might have missed, while zapping the commercials using the fast-forward feature on their remote controls. But those who like commercials and want to see more about the products can go to on demand and find long-form ads created just for them.

Some companies, such as Dove Chocolates, even produce mini-programs with interesting characters and evolving story lines. Naturally, the characters eat a lot of Dove candy and ice-cream bars as the plots unfold.

Read more of Ted's personal reflections and stories from the road on his blog, Ted Landphair's America.