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Netflix Saves Kids from Up to 400 Hours of Commercials a Year (localbabysitter.com)
649 points by sharkweek 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 392 comments





Worth. Every. Penny.

I went to my parents house with my son. He was 4. They turned on cartoons. Then he said, "Dad why'd you change the show? I don't want to watch this." It was a commercial. I had to explain commercials to my son. It was at that moment I realized how much of my tv watching as a kid was commercials.


After subscribing to YouTube Premium, I had a similar revelation. Now if only we could have a google ad-free subscription which would turn off all google search and display network ads, our lives would be so much better! What if we could have cities outlaw advertising on billboards and instead collect a small tax to make up for the lost revenue, how much would our quality of life increase? That makes me wonder, if we could ever get to such an utopia, what avenues would advertisers have left to sell products to us?

São Paulo is the city without outdoor advertisements.

Random link: https://99percentinvisible.org/article/clean-city-law-secret...


Canberra, Australia has a ban on billboards, with the exception of the airport.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/specials/curious-canberra/2017-0...


That link is awesome and could be its own HN submission altogether

Submit it. I wholeheartedly agree!

It looks almost like a bunch of trash was cleaned up off the streets.

Advertising just works. Don't doubt it on consumers: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays

Inoculate yourself and others from the effects of advertising by saying something negative about the brand whenever you see the ad.

Ex. I saw a Mazda ad. "Mazdas are the perfect car for when you want to look like a complete idiot while burning to death in your poorly manufactured deathtrap."


Or live in a country where you don't speak the language well.

On a side note whenever I am in an airport in the states its amazing how much NLP (neuro linguistic programming) you guys are bombarded by.


Could you use a concrete example? US airports are creepy as hell, especially places like Atlanta that have constant CNN blaring like the telescreen in 1984, and of course there is much disgusting advertising, but I never noticed any overt "NLP."

Shit loads of advertising and "serving those who serve you" - referring to mil arty veterans in one airport. But i guess that's the point in NLP, you arebn't supposed to notice it. It was only after reading some books on it that I noticed it as often.

Thanks, I suppose now that you mention it that is a bit creepy and Orwellian. Generally speaking, American airports are the most totalitarian and creepy and uncomfortable in the world. The telescreen blaring, the insane security line, the ads ... stuff like the insane murals in the Denver airport -I'll add that to my list of bloody awful things American flyers put up with.

I find I do this automatically now. Whenever I see an ad the only thing I remember is not to buy whatever they are selling. For shows, I won't watch them. I even cancelled Netflix over their automatic trailers playing. Hulu is next with their unskippable commercials even on the 'ad free' plan

Off topic: >. I even cancelled Netflix over their automatic trailers playing.

But what shows do you enjoy on Netflix if you still cling to them (bad experience)?


Does anyone doubt it?

Seems odd to also remove what appear to be signs for retail businesses on the walls of the business itself, but maybe I’m interpreting the before and after images incorrectly.

Those are allowed but have limited dimensions, doesn't matter the size of your storefront you can only have a logo of a certain size, lots of loopholes like the McDonald's M or putting huge logos inside a glass wall but in general it is followed.

I think those were regulated to be smaller? You can see a "SUPER OASIS" (?) sign shrunk from door-size to half-a-window size :)

These photos are unreal, thanks for sharing.

The article has a line about how local art got a boost. Did many artists never get a chance just because our collective minds were preoccupied with product advertising? Is the presence of advertising an important distinguishing factor when we compare the current age to the Renaissance period?

Beat me to it.

Just a thing - São Paulo was the city without ads. Now, state owned boards abound in the city. But it's still much better than any other city I've ever seen in the world.


Imagine what Tokyo would look like if they instituted this law. In some ways, it would cease to be Tokyo and become an “Edo”

nice, but it would be better to remove the poles too


I actually forgot YouTube had ads until someone showed me a video on their laptop this past weekend. Was painful to watch them try to dismiss it.

In addition to blocking ads, I used Adblock to remove the html for the recommended videos panel that shows up to the right or underneath a playing video. I’ve definitely noticed a personal reduction in wormhole clicking YouTube usage.

I find uBlock works well at blocking YouTube ads but occasionally I get a static screen in the video player that says something like “Service not available at the moment.”. YT seems to be intermittently blocking UBO users.

This also affects other blockers.[1][2]

I never reproduced such issue on my side, so unfortunately there is no way for me to investigate -- given that this affects different blockers with different code base, I suspect a filter issue.

* * *

[1] https://venturebeat.com/2016/03/13/youtube-shows-adblock-plu...

[2] https://help.getadblock.com/support/solutions/articles/60001...


I've seen such errors, on Chrome with UBlock, but I don't know if it's coming from Ublock or from my network connection.

I use ubo and I've never, ever had that happen to me. My two cents.

Disabling it temporarily always fixes the problem, so I have assumed it is due to UBO blocking something which if YT sees has been blocked enough times for a specific visitor, they will prevent video from loading, but maybe my hypothesis is incorrect. This only happens when I’m watching a lot of YouTube videos one after the other.

I seem to recall that if you disable uBlock on a site, you have to reload for the change to take effect. Is it possible that the page reload and not disabling uBlock is doing it?

Anything for FireTV? I tried DNS blocking, but that did not affect YouTube there (it runs on FF, which does not support add-ons on Fire OS).

This reminded me of Elysium: but instead of the rich being the only ones able to receive quality health care, here they are the only ones able to afford a reprieve from these mind numbing ads.

I would love to be able to eliminate all ads in my life. At the same time, doesn't this feel a little like the advertisers are extorting us for some $$? Lest they jam more ads down your throat.


This Banksy quote feels apropos:

> People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you're not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you. You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity. Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It's yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head. You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don't owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don't even start asking for theirs.


AFAIK here in NL they did ask for permission, from the government. The government happily gives these even though they make our roads less safe. Meanwhile, people who use a (smart)phone whilst driving get a fine. Why do the billboards remain on the road? Why are there electronic billboards in the bus? Why can't I enjoy the scenery, or read my book instead?

I've eliminated all virtual ads in my life, at least, and I typically ignore in-person ads subconsciously. I don't have a cable subscription, I pay for every platform/tool I use, etc. I also run an ad blocker, though I try to be careful about making sure I'm paying for something that's valuable to me.

I don't really feel extorted. These things are usually services provided to me, services that probably would not exist without revenue, whether by ads or subscriptions.

I will say this: there are times where I feel somewhat disconnected as a result, especially when it comes to entertainment. Like, I saw Avengers: Endgame without having seen Captain Marvel first... because I didn't know Captain Marvel was being released. It didn't show up on any of my social media, I guess, or I missed it if it did.

Similarly, I've missed new seasons of shows I cared about. No political ads - sometimes people refer to local ads in casual conversation and I'm mostly lost. Stuff like that.

It's sort of eye-opening to realize how much information is disseminated via ads/media. I mean, it's obvious in retrospect, right? But to experience it, well, it's something.


I quit most social media a few months ago and have always blocked ads the best I could, and I completely agree. A sense of alienation is felt.

What's more, is that I "realize" that none of the things I was missing really matter. I do not care, at all, that I missed Captain marvel. Nor that I missed my favourite TV show -- I can always watch it later, if I really want to.

Seeing other people then care about such trivialities is a novel experience too.

Nowadays, the source of most of my pop culture current events is my SO. She applies her own hereustics, and (mostly) genuinelyy interesting pieces of info are what pass through her to me. She's getting it via top Instagram/Facebook/YouTube posts anyway. I find this system much better than the earlier one.


[flagged]


That's a personal attack and also breaks this guideline: "Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."

Could you please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and take the spirit of this site more to heart? This comment and the two or three previous ones you posted have been breaking it.


> At the same time, doesn't this feel a little like the advertisers are extorting us for some $$? Lest they jam more ads down your throat.

They wouldn't have succeeded in this extortion (online) if it wasn't for companies with billions of dollars hiring the smartest people in the world to enable advertisers to spy on people en-masse.


Rest assured that advertisement works with and without spying. Spying just improves efficiency somewhat.

To supply a supporting anecdote: as a cis male, I'm consistently served ads for female-products like tampons on Instagram, presumably one of the "smartest" spies out there

Same here, except it's for women's clothes...

If AR becomes a reality, this will become all the more acute. Public advertising is currently limited by physical boundaries. Hyperreality [0] sets a clear vision for one possible future.

[0] https://vimeo.com/166807261?ref=em-share


When the GP mentioned Elysium I was also reminded of the live-action Ghost in the Shell movie with the AR ads similar to this video.

Someone has to pay for these services. Either we pay for them or advertisers do.

It's not like advertisers pay for the services from their own money. They 'basically' force you to buy the stuff which they advertise and take that money to pay the service.

Get an adblocker!

Works for your devices. Doesn’t work for the outside world.

It took me years to train my brain to not read outdoor advertisement. I can't stop it from seeing/interpreting images, but I can successfully ignore text/letters which are less than a meter in size.

Can't get one on chrome mobile. I know know...

Mobile Firefox has (almost?) full add-on parity with the desktop version. I don't know what I'd do without uBlock0 everywhere

Yes, you can. You can use a different browser such as Mozilla Firefox, or use DNS-based blocking such as Pi-Hole. I use both of these, and use WireGuard to reach my Pi-Hole. If I have a network connection, I have an adblocker.

>You can use a different browser such as Mozilla

I just really like Google fast search by selecting. Can't live without it.


Sounds like a horrible feature. Selecting data makes you Google it? What if you copy/paste a password. Vimium does it right for me, but requires physical keyboard.

It's that thing on mobile that we have: instant search.

Selecting text in my world is either copying text, or selecting text. Not searching for that text on a search engine. That shouldn't be the default (most common) keybind.

Anyway, you can still use DNS-based (with or without VPN) filtering.


You can get ad free mobile browsers like Ghostery browser.

There is "Google Contributor" [1].

The idea is basically that you pay the publisher out of your own pocket for their ad space, to buy your own impression. This might be a great product if it covers the majority of ad inventories...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Contributor


Bangalore blocked all billboards recently. Different reasons, but similar effect.

It is like the whole city is on Adblock.


I've been enjoying YouTube Red/Premium for about a year and a half but I'm kind of considering cancelling it to go back to using an adblocker for YouTube's embedded ads and supporting specific creators via Patreon or something. The majority of the channels I watch embed their own ad-reads into their videos now so the ad-free value proposition for Premium is getting much weaker for me.

I was considering it too and I don't understand why Google doesn't force the creators to mark up when the ads start and end so it could just jump over them for people who pay YouTube Premium to specifically get rid of ads. People like us will stop paying go with a adblocker.

I just cancelled mine and let me tell you, the added 10 to 30 seconds of ads before the video starts are already bugging me a lot.

Is there any particular reason you're not using an adblocker?

If you watch lots of Youtube with the iPad/iPhone apps, there wouldn't be any adblocker for that.

adblock for IOS can block all types of stuff. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/adblock/id691121579 They also make an app called webblock which nice but less powerful.

Adguard works if you watch in Safari.

I cancelled my Google Play Music family subscription (of which I was the only user at that point) and then signed up for a normal subscription. Didn't realize doing so lost my bundled Youtube Red subscription in the process. Started getting midroll ads on YouTube on my phone and couldn't figure out why...

you might look into using youtube vanced

NewPipe is awesome as well (and you can download) and since it pretends to be a browser its got some neat features, it's in the FDroid store.

As someone who only uses YouTube for music I'm glad that embedded ads are not a thing for music channels. YouTube Premium is worth a thousand times more than any Spotify subscription.

> what avenues would advertisers have left to sell products to us?

My serious guess would be even more paid shills. It's amazing how much more weight a message can have when it comes from someone that's not obviously tied to the company.


My skepticism level is now of epic proportions when I see someone recommending products online. Louis Rossmann is one notable exception, but far too rare.

These days I usually just type "reviews for XXX reddit", but even that isn't a sure thing anymore.


Just one of the many things SEO has ruined. Searching "x reviews" for any x is completely worthless at best, actively hostile at worst.

The trick is to look for negative reviews first.

Yup, I do the "[search query] + reddit" in my searches as well. Just including the phrase on its own brings up a ton of garbage sites with reviews written by content marketing people for SEO purposes as opposed a 3-4 line Reddit comment.

I use reddit for all kinds of suggestions. It's definitely getting harder and it also helps to be in the target demographic of reddit.

> What if we could have cities outlaw advertising on billboards and instead collect a small tax to make up for the lost revenue

To me there is something seriously wrong with this way of thought. Why would we collect a small tax to make up for businesses' lost profit? It sounds, to me, downright bizarre, like saying forcing factories to be more environmentally friendly would cost money to the business and cut profits so we should take that money from the taxpayers. Wow.


> if we could have cities outlaw advertising on billboards and instead collect a small tax to make up for the lost revenue, how much would our quality of life increase?

Ideally decisions would instead be made based on unbiased reviews and rational decision making.

Hopefully the lack of advertising would relieve us from unconscious decision fatigue and free up our energy for other parts of life.


We have a ban on billboards in our town in Indiana of all places, its definitely possible. It is nice as well, I always forget how annoying they are until I travel to other cities.

I think it would create a sort of a monopoly -- the municipal taxes paying the ad-free tithe. I imagine corruption and backroom deals would result in that cost going up and up over time.

A better solution would be to outlaw ads / billboards, and ticket the offenders to offset the lost income from billboards etc. Municipalities love new revenue streams.


Instead of banning a particular avenue of advertising, which moves the advertising spend to somewhere else, why not have a broad-based tax on advertising spending?

We've seen how ineffective things like banning advertising to children were on reducing smoking, while raising taxes on cigarettes was quite effective at reducing smoking levels. And some advertising is useful. I don't need no advertising in my life, I just need less of it. Taxes would reduce the "arm's race" effect where companies need to advertise because their competitors are advertising. I suspect that the quality of advertising would go up if it were more expensive, as well.

Perhaps at some point in the future, we will have too little advertising and there will need to be a debate on how we should reduce the advertising tax. I long for this day.


But smoking rates have been dropping, and the tobacco companies certainly put up a huge fight here in Aus when we tried to enforce plain packaging on cigarettes, so they're spending an awful lot of resources on fighting something that 'doesn't work'...(hint: it does)

If you're not a fan of blocking ads, DuckDuckGo let's you disable ads in their search results.

what is the difference between blocking and disabling? The result is the same, right?

Yes, just without the guilt (since this means DDG is clearly okay with not making ad revenue off me)

That world exists with ad blockers. Was viewing a friend's computer who didn't have an ad blocker installed and almost forgot what it had been like to see ads plastered everywhere online.

> what avenues would advertisers have left to sell products to us?

Maybe pay me some money for my attention? In exchange you get all the data from me: how much money I spend on X. How often I do Y. Whatever helps you sell your product to me. If you succeed and I like your ad or buy your product, the ad is for free. Otherwise you pay me some €/$/coins.


Ad blockers effectively block Google ads on desktops and iOS - including third party apps like Feedly that use the SafariViewController.

To be fair, my favorite show growing up was Transformers. So technically even the show itself was a commercial.

Transformers is great advertising - it delivered good entertainment value, it made the toys more fun to play with because your imagination had already seen a bunch of Transformers stories play out.

Contrast this with cable TV ads if you haven't watched cable TV in a while. Annoying, gimmicky, manipulative.

I don't have a problem with commercials on principle - I have a problem with how they're implemented. Banner ads on website that give me good content for free? Great! Informing me there are hot MILFs in my area while I'm pair-programming with my boss? No thanks.


I'm always reminded of the Mattel and Mars Bar quick Energy Chocobot Hour whenever I think of Transformers...

https://simpsons.fandom.com/wiki/Mattel_and_Mars_Bar_Quick_E...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HErRwSpla0


I don't know how many PJ Masks toys and shirts I've bought based on that show.

The thing that got me as a kid was seeing all the cool food everyone else got that my parents wouldn't give me. I just wanted hot pockets in my house like they had. Kids will always want toys like the shows they like. But the other stuff isn't necessary.


Yeah, all my favorite shows from my childhood in the 80's were created to sell a toy.

That probably goes for a lot of shows for kids :)

I'd say if a kids show is not on public television it most likely is a commercial for a toy or a vehicle for a number of other ads for unrelated toys.

And even for me and my five year old, there is plenty of Danial Tiger gear out there to buy! The difference is they make and sell the toys but they don't advertise them during the show. It's not much but that subtle difference is what allows me to sit down and watch 30 - 60 minutes of these shows a few times a week with her.

As others have mentioned, even NetFlix "sells toys", just not overtly like network TV does. But just watching PJ Max, Trolls, etc. makes my five year old grand daughter want everything she sees when we go to any store that has these shows' stuff for sale.

Both of them are still better than numbing their minds with 8-12 minutes of intense, flashy commercials for every 30 minute show they watch though.


One of the reasons I got Netflix, and one of the reasons why I want to get rid of cable TV (I can't get internet without cable TV). However I am getting tired of the autoplay functions in Netflix. They. Are. Annoying.

Commercials for children are a cancer to society. They're a distraction and a waste of our precious time. Parents don't want it (they got enough on their hands as it is), children don't want it (it isn't content, they get manipulated).

While I will protect my children (and myself) from any commercials, its also good to teach them that not everything they notice is truth or can be achieved/bought.


In Québec, the Consumer Protection Act prohibits commercial advertising directed at children under 13 years of age. One negative effect is that this has made it very hard for genuine educational companies to grow. It is hard to market a product that teach kids to code if you cannot show the product to kids.

> It is hard to market a product that teach kids to code if you cannot show the product to kids.

You show it to their parents, don't you?


You can but even then you risk not following the rules correctly.

> The Consumer Protection Act prohibits advertising that targets children. To determine whether advertising is directed at them, the Act stipulates that it is necessary to take into account the context of the advertisement’s presentation and the impression it gives.

> The Act also provides three criteria that correspond to the following questions:

> • For whom are the advertised goods or services intended? Do they appeal to children?

> • Is the advertisement designed to attract the attention of children?

> • Are children targeted by the advertisement or exposed to it? Are they present at the time and place it appears or is broadcast?

[...]

> Goods or services essentially intended for children and that therefore appeal to them. Ex.: certain video games, toys or candy primarily consumed by children.

> The ad must not:

> • be designed in a way that appeals to children;

> • be broadcast or distributed in a place where or at a time when children are normally reached.

[...]

> The fact that an advertisement or advertising method appears to target adults does not mean that the advertisement is intended exclusively for them. Following an analysis of the two other criteria, an advertisement that attracts the attention of children can still be considered as advertising directed at children even though it seems to target adults because of its verbal or written content. That may be the case if the product advertised appeals to children.

- https://www.opc.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/media/documents/consomm...


Sounds like, ironically enough, this might be about the only ad that's safe to run:

https://youtu.be/Prg_SVBfFWw


So you could advertise a coding educational product during commercials of a late-night talk show, that talk about the educational benefits of the product?

"Educational companies" is a narrow enough industry where advertising to the appropriate market segments while excluding children is entirely possible. If you sell educational products, you wouldn't be advertising on a kid's cartoon show, you'd be doing it on channels where adults with wallets would convene.

Teacher's unions publications/newsletters would be a no-brainer, as would popular blogs or Youtube channels focused on child-rearing.


I came to say something similar. My child gets irate when she sees an ad, esp when she plays a free to play game on the iphone and I forget to put the phone in airplane mode.

her: "Dad, what is this? I want to play my game"

me: "Oh sorry, that is an ad, let me fix this."

her: "I hate ads!"

She is basically the same with trailers.


Granted, my son now wants toys based on this "new" show he was watching and is sad to find out that toys for this are no longer made and the only ones that exist are collectibles.

Brand marketing towards children is a real and effective thing. There was a study done on wrapping basic food (carrots/apples) in McDonalds branding and kids said it tasted better [1]. Always seemed scary to me.

Glad my kids don't have the same amount of brainwashing as I did. However, we have our own generational problems to deal with, like YouTube "merch" begging, clickbaiting, etc. Now that I think about it, maybe I'd rather they'd see TV adverts...

[1] https://www.cbc.ca/news/kids-think-food-in-mcdonald-s-wrappe...


Same my son grew up on Netflix, we were watching the Super Bowl on OTA tv when he was 5 and he asked the same thing, what's this? Oh that's a commercial.

He also picked up that when we search a toy on amazon, afterward there would be an ad on the side of YouTube for the same toy, he pointed and asked how they did that. This was around the same time, he was 5 or 6.


When I was a kid, our evening TV was always Sesame Street -> Klokhuis (a pop-sci-ish program for kids) -> Jeugdjournaal (news presented in an accessible way for kids), and after that it's my dad's turn to watch the real news at 8.

All those shows still exist, and recently we did that again, and we were all baffled by how much commercials we had to watch. Dutch public TV has commercials, and that's looking increasingly odd now that we're all so used to Netflix. My son was calling to skip it, but we couldn't.


Why not go further and get rid of TV? The problems it creates seem to greatly outweigh any little benefits. And most of the benefits can be gotten with books anyway, which also has more benefits.

What about documentaries like Planet Earth? Would find it hard to believe that a book could replace that.

TV is fine in moderation.


I've never seen or heard of that documentary and probably neither have my kids, but we seem to get along just fine without it.

Also we don't have TV and less than a year ago got rid of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, our home internet connection, our mobile internet connections, and our landline telephone.

I find that now we read a lot more books and talk a lot more and explore the world around us more often and more actively. And we all like to share the exciting new things we learn about, them from school and us from reading at home. So there's no shortage of learning from lack of TV.


Genuinely curious, how are you planning to handle the future in which your kids go to college and move out of your house? Do you feel like they will be adequately prepared to deal with the world that has internet, Netflix, smartphones, etc.? To me, this situation reminds of all those sheltered kids with overprotective parents, who went off the rails once they got to college, because they were not prepared to handle well all those new options they were "protected" from by their parents.

Right now is the time for us to teach them self-control and self-restraint, and we do that in little ways that get bigger over time. As all virtues, if you sharpen it against one thing, it'll be sharper for the next thing. Those devices will probably be one of those ways they can practice as they get old enough, but with supervision of course.

The idea is, if you give a kid a solid foundation for a happy life by the time they're a young adult, so that they have a formula and a recipe for a life that they feel completely satisfied with, they won't feel unfulfilled and like life is missing something when they become adults, which is the biggest motivator for people adopting bad habits, especially the bad habits of their peers. So that's my job. Give them a good, full life now, and teach them how to navigate life while making it good and full in wholesome and rewarding ways. Then trust them to make these decisions as adults. And guide them through it the whole time. My job won't end when they're 18 or 81. I'm always their father and role model and guide, til the day I die.


I think a lot of "shared experience" stuff in the network tv era included the ads. I still remember advertising songs and things like the big mac ingredients.

"Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!" I hadn't thought of that one for decades. I could feel bad about not memorizing Shakespeare instead, but I also have MANY numerical constants in permastore from the same era, so I can't complain too much.

I had that same experience with my daughter—it was Thanksgiving, so we put on the Macy's Day Parade 'cause hey, giant balloons. And then a commercial came on and she asked me to put the balloons back.

Couldn't agree more, and when a lot of kids are doing that you can imagine how much of an effect it has on peer pressure and what is considered a cool toy to have.

Same thing with mine. Not being able to choose an episode or show, and being stuck with whatever the channel wanted to provide, was a foreign concept.

Did you tell this story years ago on hn? Someone did and I've mentioned it to a few people since. (although I guess it is a common situation)

Even just in my own personal life, I've heard similar stories from more than one person. I've also both heard and personally witnessed with my own kids them trying to manipulate the primary TV of the house like it's a touchscreen, so I'm sure that's a story that's independently happened many hundreds of thousands of times by now, if not millions.

(I don't have a cute story, though. They just tried it once, I told them it didn't work that way, please stop smearing the TV with your hands, and they stopped. No cute questions or comments about the TV being "broken".)


I remember my kids similar confusion/annoyance when they first strayed from the BBC children's channels - CBeebies and CBBC

Funny that they say it's saving kids all this time.. as if adults aren't the main consumers of Netflix media.

Until it's not and they advertise anyway. Netflix has adopted the pay and advertise anyway model. The advertising in this case is the product you've already paid for, which is still annoying and bothersome. Apparently, they are trying to work off the success of AOL.

I have had the same experience.

Also, some relative gave us some kids' VHS tapes and I still had a player so I figured why not? Well, let me tell you why not: Nobody has time for rewinding to take place and the low-quality video and audio is quaint, but it's dead tech. The VCR and all the tapes got recycled shortly thereafter.


> Nobody has time for rewinding

VHS could be stopped where you wanted to stop. Who hasn’t played the frustrating dance where streamed video buffers, plays some other part or jumps back to where you were. VHS rwd and ffw buttons just worked.


Really? We love our VCR. How else are you going to watch beauty and the beast without suffering through human again?

On the flip side, commercials can teach a kid to be patient, and that it can not always have instant/continuous gratification.

I agree with you, but I downvoted to build your character. You're welcome!

There are much better ways to teach that.

You could apply that same logic to pretty much any hardship that builds character. It's not a good argument.

If that's your goal, wouldn't it be better to just pause the TV every 10 minutes or so for a few minutes at a time? That would have the same effect in terms of delaying gratification, and it's strictly better because you're not exposing your child to commercials.

Pausing the TV every 10 minutes is much harder as a parent on many different levels.

Commercials can teach kids about long term instant gratification when it comes to toys. If they want something they see on TV, then they can wait until their birthday/Christmas to get it and decide which ones they want most.

They can also learn that often toys on TV seem more fun than they are in real life. They can learn to be more skeptical when it comes to advertising through experience.

Commercials are not really the problem. It is spoiling kids and buying them something every time they demand it that causes issues.


Can't the same be achieved just by limiting/ scheduling screen time?

(And a while host of other parental techniques incidentally)


were the ads really all that bad though? I don't remember asking for much more than video games, board games, hungry hungry hippos, McDonalds, Sunny D, etc.

Kids today get crazy ads on Instagram and are asking for Supreme shirts, Yeezus shoes, Kylie Jenner makeup kits.


Yes, they were that bad and were getting worse. By the late 90's, most ads directed at young children were reminiscent of a bad acid trip. Flashing lights and colors, non-stop quick-cuts and people literally screaming over and over for you, a child of 6 or 7 years, to BUY THE THING! YOU GOTTA HAVE IT! COLLECT THEM ALL!

It was absolutely terrifying and we should all be collectively ashamed for allowing it to persist and to happen in the first place.

Here's a random example I just found on YouTube (first 30 seconds): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXzR3-w3vEQ


Those don't look like ads from the 90s.

Ads like that suck, but I think you are pearl clutching a bit.

My kids have literally zero disposable income. I'm not saying I enjoy ads or that we need more, but HN goes really over the top against advertising.

> My kids have literally zero disposable income.

They can ask to use yours, though, which is what most kid-targeted advertising looks to cause.


And you just say no?

Sure, you can, but most parents don't say no every time, and that means sometimes asking's going to pay off.

Some of the "kidfluencer" content out there is clearly aimed at giving kids talking points to bring to their parents. Before we banned YouTube from the house a few years back, I had a couple experiences where my kids would come and give me canned marketing copy - "it's fun and educational for the whole family!" sort of nonsense - they'd clearly cribbed off a video.

One specific example of this I can remember: "EvanTube". Started off cute and relatively non-commercial, but turned into very clearly paid marketing. https://www.fastcompany.com/3045807/meet-the-father-son-team...


Do you want them to constantly ask for useless junk or unhealthy junk (e.g. sugary cereal)? Throwing a tantrum when they don't get their way?

How are those ads worse? This feels completely arbitrary.

I think GP is saying that what they asked for as a kid was much more affordable

Sure? It’s still consumer capitalism?

they are explicit ads for fun things, not some ambiguous influencer ad that makes your kid feel bad about themselves.

…sure, the ads make them seem fun. Maybe kids these days want special clothes instead of McDonald’s and Sunny D? (those things are good for what they are but not great in any objective sense. Neither are clothes, but that’s kind of my point.) Also from experience of my younger sibling and my cousins, those ads (and things) are mostly seen and desired by teenagers, which is morally questionable in different ways.

Good riddance. The last time I watched TV with ads was for the superbowl, and even those nicely produced ads I found absolutely grating. There's no way I can go back to ads between tense moments in TV shows. It's like seeing the internet with an adblocker for the first time.

Similar thing here - the only time I now encounter video-ads-making-noise is at the cinema before a film, and it's becoming unpleasant enough there that I've largely stopped going to the cinema.

It's not (or not just) that they're getting worse, it's that once the familiarity wears off you can't help but see how psychologically damaging and hostile they are.


> once the familiarity wears off you can't help but see how psychologically damaging and hostile they are.

Same thing happens to me with TV news. I used to watch them, but now, everytime someone else is watching, I can't help but see how much they manipulate the content to their convenience, and how much they blatantly lie.


> Same thing happens to me with TV news. I used to watch them, but now, everytime someone else is watching, I can't help but see how much they manipulate the content to their convenience, and how much they blatantly lie.

This, one billion times. I don't care which network or show you watch, or which newspaper you read, they are all lying. They are all pushing an agenda very clearly.

I mostly make do with Bloomberg, WSJ and NPR. I can't even read the NY Times these days.


PBS Newshour.

Clarification: PBS Newshour is as much (national / international) news as you need in a day, and doesn’t sensationalize.


My brother works in a cinema so he can look up how long the ads and trailers before the film are for me, meaning I tend to turn up at the scheduled start time, buy some popcorn, and then walk in just as the trailers are wrapping up. It’s an excellent experience.

See if you're near an Alamo Drafthouse. Their pre-roll is so good I'll try to show up early. For Endgame it was a summary of the MCU so far interspersed with old cartoons and stuff.

I'm in London, England, so probably not.

One solution is to stand outside the theater and go in after the movie starts. You can have someone message you when it’s starting or listen to when the advertisements finish.

I do this just because I don't like watching trailers for movies I know I'll watch already (especially since trailers spoil more of the movie than the internet does sometimes), but taking in some in-ear earbuds (esp if they have noise cancelling) and just not looking at the screen is great if you wanna be more covert in your oddities.

"The average 2-5 year old is spending over 1,600 hours a year watching television."

This seems nuts to me. That is 4.5 hours a day! For a 2 year old? Who are these parents...


Childcare is super expensive. I think there are a ton of people who can’t afford it and use screen time to supplement. It keeps the kid safe in one spot while you can get stuff done. Keep in mind that letting a child play outside by themselves is essentially illegal.

> child play outside by themselves is essentially illegal.

No it's not.



First one, not treated as a crime. But there is a record, so that sucks.

Second one, leaving your 9 year old at a park all day while you are not there. I can see why that is a problem.

The third one is maybe where the is controversy. It would be nice if a 6 year old could play on the street by themselves. I think there is some discretion here and it depends what your street and suburb is like to some extent.

The last one is tragic and totally unfair to the family. Looks like another nail in the coffin for people without a lot of money in the US (who can't call a babysitter on short notice) and who use common sense. Then they get a criminal record, lose their jobs etc, can't get a new one etc. F'd.


Aren't these stories newsworthy because it is ridiculous to not let kids play outside?

have a kid and find out for us

You're right, it's not illegal, but there's been a MASSIVE chilling effect on outside play. Of my daughter's friend group, she has by far the most freedom. She's got free reign over our neighborhood which has two parks, a school, a couple lakes, and even a small wooded area kids can venture off into. But none of her friends are allowed to play outside. One friend of hers, 12 years old, is not allowed to ride her bike in her own driveway without a parent outside with her. Another friend of hers, 13, has never been allowed to spend the night at a friend's house. All of these other parents think I'm the crazy one for letting my kid play outside. She usually chooses not to, because it's hardly any fun to play alone.

I know, anecdata and all that, but it's really crazy out there.


Wow. Why can’t the kid spent a night out at her friends place ?

Because after 7pm the streets are swarming with velociraptors and hoardes of drooling pedophiles and her little friend's parents don't have the latest in automated turret technology yet.

I encourage you to google it. People get arrested all around the country for letting their kids play in the park across the street, ride their bike around the block, sit in the car alone at the bank, etc.

The fact that "a handful of people" in "several places" over "the last 20 years" becomes "People get arrested all around the country" like it's an epidemic or something is one of many negative, and one of the worst, things about the internet.

That and the fact that "oh and then the charges were dropped and in some cases local laws changed" is inevitably (I think purposefully) left out.

Reason.com went on a year-long bender of self-promotion and half-truthing about 3 years ago when three women were arrested in three states, claiming that "jack-booted big gubmint was comin to take yer kerdz" and plastered people's pictures and stories on fundraising materials and tried to get people to buy their "free range kids" books, as though three incidents in a country of 300 million was an epidemic.

Of course, the most confusing thing about all of this is that a Venn diagram of "people who think that the government is rounding up mothers all over the country" and "people who immediately, vocally, and vociferously criticize the government for NOT protecting the welfare of children" is a perfect circle.


This seems true, and also I think there's some nuance lost in the stats as well.

My personal experience as a parent is that my kids don't get nearly the amount of independence that I did at their age. A reasonable part of this is that I am afraid that my kids will get taken away. My preference is towards the free(r)-range style of parenting, so the ex-post stats don't convey the full effect that the small sample size of reported "big gubmint takeaways" has.


Probably depends on the area and other factors... in my area it was totally normal for kids to walk some half a mile to a mile home in middle school just over a decade ago and I don't think it's changed. I think even elementary school was normal with possibly a smaller distance (not sure how far kids went, but a couple blocks was fine).

Twenty five years ago in my area, a mile to half a mile was routine for elementary school students. By middle school, I would come home to an empty house and go pick up my brother who was in kindergarten. Nowadays, my daughter is in elementary school and I see parents drive their cars up to the bus stop and hover until the bus comes.

The majority of me thinks that parents today need to relax because the chance of your kid being kidnapped or whatever are about the lowest they've ever been. And then another part of me wonders if that's BECAUSE today's parents are paranoid.

Huge exaggeration. Also, free-range parenting is a thing, but even in relatively "helicopter-y" families, the ability to send kids off somewhere w/ a phone to reconnect makes it easy to let kids of a certain age explore and exercise some freedom.

What are the rates of arrest? I've seen a couple reports, but n=2 is not a data set.

I would encourage you not to google it. Google is full of worst case scenarios.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2015/05/26/free-range-kids-the-u...


But that was my typical afternoon as kid. Making it illegal forces kids to be dumb watching only TV

Depends on the area a bit (by state, and how grumpy the particular cops involved are). My kids walk to school/playground/neighbors, but...

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/13/parent...

> In December, the couple was accused of neglect for allowing the children to walk around their suburban Washington neighborhood together unaccompanied by an adult. In one instance, Rafi and Dvora were walking from a playground two blocks from home; in another, the park was about a mile away.


Even worse when you don’t know if it will be arbitrarily enforced.

> Who are these parents

They are two people, each of whom works at a job (Which is necessary for most families), who don't live with their retired parents (Who would watch, and play with grandkids for free), and can't afford a nanny. (Or, as rich engineers call them, an aupair.)

In short - normal 21st century people.

(And if they are single parents, this equation becomes even more screwed up. The problem with being a single parent, is that you have to live with whatever life decisions lead you up to that point, for the next 18 years.)


I definitely sympathize with what you're saying, but 4.5 hrs (on avg!) still seems like a lot. But there are alternatives.

That said, I see working involved parents that hand their kids an iPad the minute they get home from daycare so I suppose it isn't out of the realm of possibility.

I'm still a bit shocked that the distribution would result in 4.5 hrs on average. The bullet points from the referred page were actually more interesting:

"TV viewing among kids is at an eight-year high. On average, children ages 2-5 spend 32 hours a week in front of a TV—watching television, DVDs, DVR and videos, and using a game console." [http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv]

I think this implies that kids playing video games (which at that age is mostly shape matching, colors, words, vocabulary) is included in television.


I wanna know what 2 year old can stare at a screen for 4.5 hours. All the 2's we've had have been all over the place and won't sit in front of a tv.

Not that I'm complaining... Honest, I'm not.

> Who are these parents...

Remember "It takes a village"? Well, in all honesty, it does. And if you don't have a support system in place, you'll have a hard go of it.


They compulsively flick through videos and later vent their pent up energy through temper tantrums. I tutor a 3 year old boy for an ultra rich family, he's essentially raised by his nannies who let him do whatever he wants. Observing him using a tablet is pretty shocking, it's total zombie mode watching Elsa and Spiderman videos 15 seconds at a time before skipping to the next.

Yeah that was my first thought. Maybe kids are being saved from commercials but not from the screen.

Yeah, I'm going to call bs on this one. Perhaps they are including kids who have to have an ipad in front of them at every meal and every walk in their stroller?

I don't know, but here's a very similar stat from 2009 that makes it sound like this is only for TV: https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2009/tv-viewing-...

New findings from The Nielsen Company show kids aged 2-5 now spend more than 32 hours a week on average in front of a TV screen.



In a related note, I have come to realize the different levels of quality in children's television:

- Public television shows (PBS) stuff is so lovingly created and charming. You can really tell they had experts and creatives work side by side to craft positive stories. Even if it's not particularly exciting.

- Super-smart and creative shows (like the first couple seasons of Spongebob, or Gravity Falls). Great shows on their own merit, super funny and creative. But they are an art first and not necessarily focused on development. Good at clueing kids in on structuring jokes or references, not much else.

- Bland and harmless. Shows that drive a story or characters, but not necessarily lovingly made or particularly funny. I have found most of the Netflix/Amazon/Hulu stuff falls in here.

- Colorful garbage. It's a lights and noise show, with huge focus on licensing. Cartoons of my era are particularly susceptible to this (Dragonball Z, Yu Gi Oh, Transformers, etc).


YuGiOh and Transformers were largely toy commercials, but you lump Dragonball Z into the same class? It practically indoctrinated half a generation into fitness and physical self improvement, I still sometimes hear Bruce Falconers score at the gym.

I feel there is a substantial divide between a narrative adventure story by a Japanese manga artist crafted as a parody retelling of Journey to the West and followed by his eccentricities (Frieza was an alien and power ranger parody, Cell was a bishonen parody, there was tons of messaging in the core narrative about passing the torch, etc) and a product like Transformers designed by a corporate committee of Hasbro from day one meant to sell toys. Sure, the further into Dragonball you got the more commoditized and derivative it became, but at least the original Dragonball show is a worthy classic.

There absolutely is a class below all those shows, where there is absolutely no narrative development and every episode is designed and manufactured for self contained entertainment with no greater depth. A lot of Hanna Barbara cartoons fall into that class, Scooby Doo absolutely - where every episode is designed to be disposable and ultimately meaningless, just meant to distract.


> - Public television shows (PBS) stuff is so lovingly created and charming. You can really tell they had experts and creatives work side by side to craft positive stories. Even if it's not particularly exciting.

> - Colorful garbage. It's a lights and noise show, with huge focus on licensing. Cartoons of my era are particularly susceptible to this (Dragonball Z, Yu Gi Oh, Transformers, etc).

What PBS shows are you imagining? Clifford? Sesame Street? I never thought they were targeting the same demographics as the 'colorful garbage' like Yu-Gi-Oh (early elementary vs. late elementary/middle school). Also a lot of other popular shows (like Spongebob) seemed more like colorful garbage to me than things like Yu-Gi-Oh that you lumped in there.

And what about classics like Tom & Jerry, Roadrunner, etc.? There wasn't much particularly educational or colorful or really anything about them but man now I'm tempted to go watch them again.


Our kid has watched Thomas, Arthur, The new Fred Rogers Company shows, etc.

Tom & Jerry and Roadrunner would squarely go into the "super-smart and creative shows". All of Chuck Jones' work really is supremely well made and exists for its own merit (as opposed to an educational one).

I lump in Spongebob because they at least picked a unique topic, had unique characters, and had some very unique jokes and comedic structures. At least in the beginning.


Oh I see. Man, Arthur was soooo cheesy! I cringed whenever I saw it. Don't know the others unfortunately haha.

Gravity Falls -- yeah! I can't stand Spongebob, but are there other shows like GF?

Haha, saying "I can't stand Spongebob" makes me think of someone trying to critically review episodes of Spongebob Squarepants for its literary merit.

heh

for me, it's like dora the explorer -- just lots of noise, triggering some visceral response in me of "turn it off now, mute it, make it go away" akin to many people's aversion to certain forms of advertising, or nails on a chalkboard.


Steven Universe.

You will get the impression in the first 20-30 10-minute episodes that the show is really fun but nothing special. It builds so slowly you don't even notice, then it really takes off.


Adventure Time

Regular Show

While I'm glad that kids in Netflix-only households aren't getting bombarded with advertisements targeted at children the way kids my age were in the 1980s, I can't help but suspect that these ad-free kids need to be exposed to some advertising in an educational context so that they learn to recognize when somebody is trying to con them into buying shit they don't need and probably didn't want in the first place.

> I can't help but suspect that these ad-free kids need to be exposed to some advertising in an educational context so that they learn to recognize when somebody is trying to con them into buying shit they don't need and probably didn't want in the first place.

It's not like they spend 24/7 on Netflix, they are probably getting bombed with ads more so than ever in history out in the real world. And even more so, probably even more aggressively than the commercials they are missing by using Netflix.


I grew up on a military base in a foreign country, and all the television was from the Armed Forces network. There were no commercials, just random PSA.

Occasionally teachers would get VHS tapes with recorded TV from the US, and we were more enthralled with the commercials than the programs themselves.


Then you'll be pleased to learn adverts are also available online :)

> I can't help but suspect that these ad-free kids need to be exposed to some advertising in an educational context so that they learn to recognize when somebody is trying to con them into buying shit they don't need and probably didn't want in the first place.

Do you mean something like, the Internet?

Advertising is so pervasive, you'd probably have to do something drastic like Amish style technology banning to avoid it; even that may not be enough.

As a side note, even though Netflix doesn't have separate advertising, I'm sure there's at least product placement and other forms of advertising in their content.


Ublock origin, Netflix, Spotify, and ditching mobile apps for social media will cut out a huge percentage of adds for most people.

Admittedly I haven't found a way around billboards, adds playing on gas pumps (though I try to avoid those gas stations), playing in stores, or the occasional sponsored link on some sites I visit, but compared to old TV or radio these are fairly painless.


Press (probably) the second button on the right at the gas station pump, it will mute the ad. Still plays the video but much easier to ignore.

For awhile this was apparently just a hidden feature, recently I saw one where the button was labeled.


Honestly, if you haven't seen the advertising now rampant in the new Netflix interface, then you haven't been paying attention. Everyday I'm bombarded with "ads" on Netflix for shows that my family wants no part of. Things that seem either offense at worst, or at best misguided as "positive" offerings are frequently shown.

As obnoxious as this is, it's still only promoting other shows on the same service you're already paying for. It isn't convincing your kid that they need you to buy them a hundred other products, or - more importantly - seeding them with the idea of constant consumerism as a lifestyle.

That said, I've made Hulu my default now specifically because of Netflix's pushy dark patterns.


I humbly disagree. I would state that the product being sold is the lifestyle being marketed. I don't have enough in common with the Baizuo to want to watch them, copy them or imitate them.

I can barely even parse what you're trying to express here. It seems far-removed from the topic at hand.

When you aren't being charged for something you are the product. And when you've being fed ads even when you're being charged, guess what?

You're still the product.

Pay for ads in product has come a long way since AOL.


But... Netflix... costs money?

I've made secondhand optical media my fault because I'm sick of paying rent.

They learn / don't learn that skill from kidfluencers on YouTube. From what I've seen with my daughter that's a super-weaponized form of advertising compared to what I grew up in, anyone who survives Ryan and turns out halfway adjusted will have made it through a real crucible.

Yeah, my kids crave youtube, but I won't let them watch it.

> They learn / don't learn that skill from kidfluencers on YouTube.

Thanks for giving me a new excuse for being a misanthrope.


LOL! It really is something to behold, this article is a pretty good rundown in what’s going on (I would think I was making this up as some fringe thing, if I had not watched it first hand)

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/01/business/media/social-med...


For what it's worth, I distinctly remember that sometime in middle school we had a unit where exactly that happened: we were shown some ads, and there was various discussion about the way ads are created, the tricks they use, etc, etc. The "elmer's glue for milk in cereal ads" bit definitely stuck with me. ;)

What a terribly thin affiliate site? How'd this get front-paged? Why aren't we linking to the study instead of the summary of the study?

http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv


The article is a thin layer, I agree, but it adds the bit that people are mostly responding to.

Netflix puts the ads directly inside the shows they control themselves. This way no adblock can censor them, and Netflix can prance around pretending they are saints for not showing ads.

Example "Hey let's call an uber" says character A.

"I watched X on netflix yesterday" says character B.


I'm guessing you don't have kids and haven't actually experienced the difference.

- Netflix has gobs of kids shows (i.e., cartoons) that have zero product placement, at least as far as I can tell. This includes both Netflix originals and the rest.

- TV has 6-minute ad breaks every few minutes that are non-stop pitches for toys and other shows. It's unbearable.

Even shows on premium networks with some product placement and mentions are 1000x better than regular cable. There's simply no comparison.


I literally cannot watch television anymore. Advertising is such a huge annoyance. What's worse is that it's the same five adverts played every six minutes all damn day! Meanwhile nothing actually can happen in the shows themselves since there's so little time actually devoted to it instead of revenue generating ads

Same, I'm completely spoiled by ublock origin, Netflix, and Spotify Premium. Last time I killed my phone, I drove around in silence rather than listening to the radio and when Mozilla broke the extensions in Firefox a couple of weeks ago, I almost stopped using the internet altogether for a couple of days.

You need a Pihole in your network. It is excellent. It’s also handy for sorting out pet peeves (though does impose them on others in your network).

What really gets me about advertising is how much they annoy me, how much they wreck my leisure time, and how little money they make for it. For 4 minutes of annoying the heck out of me, they can expect to make single-digit pennies. What a freaking waste. If you're going to annoy me that much, at least make a couple bucks.

I cancelled sky a few years ago. They charge £30 a month and then put adverts on. Adverts are 1% of their revenue, so £3 a month.

If I watch 2 hours a day that’s 20 hours of ads a month, or 15p/hour.

I’m currently subscribed to nowtv to watch GoT. There’s an unskippavle advert at the start for other shows. That’s just about acceptable for the 6 times i’ll use it before cancellation.

DVDs used to be as bad, and I almost entirely stopped buying them because of it. they don’t seem to come with adverts now though.


Sounds like the TV version of what happened to most news sites, with ads everywhere.

My understanding is that, at least in the UK, advertising on television is way way way better, as in, a few minutes an hour of much more gentle advertisements.

A typical show on a commercial channel here will have three ad breaks in a one hour slot, of about five minutes each, and then there’ll be a longer ad break between programs. It drives me mad now I’m used to video on demand, but not nearly as much as US TV would.

Hmm, I thought it was less than that. I still consider that to be unacceptable

I haven’t watched TV in years... when I’ve caught some movie on TV at my parents’ or my in-laws’, I’ve found the ad breaks to be a great opportunity to... leave and do something better with my time than watch this movie with stupid ad breaks.

The only time I prefer watching TV is when I want to have breaks in between while doing my chores. So I would watch 'The Office' and go about doing by work by mentally disconnecting myself when ads are running. New stuff is always Prime or Netflix. Though I get how annoying it can be for kids shows, with toy ads and disney ads (each spring time I swear it is annoying), not that I wouldn't take my kids to disney

I go out if my way as far as possible to avoid advertised products/services. Especially drugs, like 2 out of 3 ads are from pharmas. I opt for generics whenever it is possible.

I absolutely hate radio ads as well to the point where my next car is a Tesla because its one of the few vehicles that simply has no radio.

My current vehicle has a MS Sync/Carplay/AndroidAuto that reverts to radio when disconnected. The radio invariable has an ad on.


Tesla has radio

Why don't you just not use the radio?

If you've seen my nephew's toy hoard with hundreds of small plastic figurines from Thomas, Paw Patrol, and Daniel Tiger, you wouldn't say there are zero product placements in kids' shows.

This is ALL over so many shows on cable TV. It hit me one day when watching bones. Two characters had a conversation about the features of their "awesome" car.

I also recently saw this on "A million little things" there was an absolutely useless shot of a main character opening the trunk of the car with a foot wave. It was so over done and out of place.


I think I know the exact scene you're talking about in Bones, it was a super obvious advertisement. Car starts making beeping noises "Why's the car beeping?", "Oh, it's the new lane assist feature in my Toyota Prius. It lets me know if I'm starting to drift across the lane because I'm distracted." Then they get to the destination and they show off the automatic parallell parking.

Everything in the new Jurassic Park movies is mercedes. Even the weird sphere-car thing is made by mercedes. There is also a prominently featured starbucks in the dinosaur park.

The movie is aware of how ridiculous is getting and a character says "Verizon Wireless presents The Indominus T-Rex!!!". I guess the writers took a jab at the producers and their deals.

------

But the worst was in the recent Jim Jarmusch film, where Adam Driver says "You can order it and it will arrive with free 2 day shipping". In a Jim Jarmusch film, one of the most respected "underground" movie directors of our generation!!! But his movie was funded by amazon studios so.. no surprises there.

Someone should really make a "product placement in movies" hall of shame and get internet famous.


Not exactly a hall of shame, but you might have a good time looking through https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ProductPlacement/Live...

Those were quite entertaining to read through!

It really made me think that not all product placement is created equal. Sometimes there are products that don't serve a purpose just sitting somewhere really conspicuously, but something like the Snack Packs in Billy Madison never once struck me as a product placement, they just seemed like a goofy thing that a kid would get really worked up over, and it ended up being one of the most quotable lines of the movie.

And that got me thinking about product placement in general, and how much stuff on that list is just products being on screen, period. I'm sure none of that ever happens on accident, but at least for me personally, it can contribute to the art to have a certain brand be present (like the Wayne's World example).

In my own life, there are brands that evoke specific feelings like road trips, or sporting events, or drunkenness, or LAN parties, or childhood in general and seeing a generic bag of burgers on screen doesn't have the same effect as seeing a bag of McDonalds... I mean, it doesn't really matter and this is all silly conjecture, but people's reactions to seeing real life brands on screen are quite interesting!


I actually find it a bit weird to watch something nominally set in the real world where everything is conspicuously covered up, and they get coffee from Generic Grey Cup, their computers from NoBrand Aluminum Cases, their fizzy sodas from Vaguely Red Can Corp., their cell phones from The Unbranded Glass Slabs Conglomerate, etc. In real life, there are some brands around. But in real life, nobody spontaneously rhapsodizes about how awesome their monitor is, or at least, not very often.

My monitor is pretty awesome, though.

Good point!

There's some pretty egregious examples of product placement in that list, but some of them aren't so bad. For example, Bruce Wayne driving a Lamborghini Murciélago in Batman. On top of showing everyone what a rich playboy he is, murciélago is Spanish for "bat".

I kind of liked how Amazon's Alexa device was used in Mr Robot. It actually got to provide plot driving insight into Dom's psychological state.

Well there was that (product placement) scene in Weeds where they talk about the Prius being a great "dealer" car because the silent mode is great for drive-by shootings.

IIRC, Weeds was on Netflix.


Oh.. I just took that as a joke. And where's the line, if the writers come up with some (non-defamatory) joke (or whatever) about some real product, that relies on real-world context about that product, is there pressure to get a product placement deal, or else drop it from the script?

Seems silly.


YES. Oh man it was terrible.

It's everywhere. Avengers Endgame made sure the Audi logo was filling a nice portion of the screen the two or three times Audis (the only cars in the whole movie) rolled up somewhere.

Remember the Oracle cloud in iron man? Cringe

Right! After too much time watching CinemaSins I automatically think "This movie brought to you by ____" when I see a prominent logo.

Like the Microsoft Surface in Marvel's Netflix series.


The breaking bad Chrysler/dodge revving scenes were egregious.

It's called product placement [1].

There are rules restricting it in the UK, which must complicate broadcasting some American TV shows.

There are also companies using software to replace the branded product according to different markets — so they can rebrand that cereal box for the rerun if necessary.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_placement


You choose the shows your kids watch; you don't get to choose what commercials a cable/airwave channel shows you.

On a related note I let my young kid watch Wheel of Fortune and then we get hit with “tune in to news at 11 to find out how this girl got horrifically abducted and abused 10 times.”

I’m so accustomed to Netflix and it’s child controls that I totally forgot what legacy tv is like.


This! My dad likes to put the news on during the day when we visit and this type of thing happens all the time.

I am not saying cable is better. I am saying that netflix has a lot of hidden marketing in their shows (for adults, I don't have kids and I don' watch kids shows) that praising them for being ad-free is kinda disgenious.

In the end of the day I 'd rather get a big blinking "this is an ad" banner on my ads, rather than the characters smirking on camera while drinking from a nescafe cup while waiting for an uber to arrive. Maybe those are not actual ads and the show writers just added uber and nescafe for narrative purposes, I don't know, because it doesn't tell us.


>netflix has a lot of hidden marketing in their shows

I really believe there's hidden cigarette marketing. Maybe directors are just taking artistic license that they can't on cable, but it just really feels like there's a noticeable increase of on-screen smoking in a lot of their originals.


Maybe, but I honestly feel like it just coincides with the whole neo-noir and lazy-noir genre coming back, where smoking/drinking at very regular intervals throughout the day is a staple. Part of the reason I feel this way is the fact that I was never able to tell or even notice the brand of cigarettes the characters were smoking.

For the last two decades "TV boxes" have been almost as common as TVs in households in my country. They let you record multiple things at the same time, automatically record a TV series, pause and rewind what you're watching etc. So instead of sitting through commercials people might hit record on a bunch of things they are interested in and watch them later (skipping over the commercials) or maybe even pause the TV for a short break in order to streamline the show. Personally I've never has a Smart TV so I might be behind the times using this method.

Many Smart TVs have buffers that allow pausing and rewind of the current channel. You can pause a show for a bit and then skip over the commercials like with a DVR.

Good point, but subtle product placement is a TON better than explicitly pushing sugary cereal as a "part of a wholesome breakfast" for 2 minutes straight.

Regular tv does this equally if not more.

"Is that a PS Vita? I have a console at home; I play sometimes to relax. I oughta get one of these for the car" - House of Cards

Yes, ruining the content itself is not better than pausing for ads.

Isn't that just realistic, though? That's how dialogue in real life sounds, too. I and most people I know use "uber" as a generic term for a ride share service. We also distinguish which streaming service the show we're talking about is on if it's not already known by everybody in the conversation.

I see two big issues.

The first one is about how well it is integrated in the show, or how "respectfully" it is done.

Let's say for example... Car brands are very welcome and a must in the Fast and Furious movies. It would be pretty silly if they had fake car brands in such a movie, and the presence of real car models can excite and make the enthousiasts nerd out more about them. Overall a victory for everyone involved.

But hearing how great of a family car a Volvo can be, in a movie about aliens... not so much.

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The second is about transparency. Assuming you do not like let's say Monsanto, or Scientology and you would like to avoid works that are funded by them. Product placement is a form of guerilla marketing, noone says who they took money from. So it lacks transparency and is disgenius to the consumers.

It's a bit like influencer marketing, when influencers "forget" to include the #sponsored hashtag.

User ksdale has left a very nice comment on the subject.


That's product placement and it's everywhere. Netflix might still be saving kids from 400 hours of commercials even if they have some commercials themselves.

I'll take two instances of product placement in an hour's programming vs. 42 min of TV with 18 min advertising.

I would much rather a TV show say “Let’s call an Uber” than “Let’s call a peer to peer ride sharing service”.

Just like everyone says “I am going to Google that” not “I’m going to search for that”. One sounds stilted. The other sounds natural.


There’s also just the ideological content of the shows.

Walulis, a German Youtube channel (imagine a German John Oliver for social media with a pretty solid Hitler joke per video ratio and high quality content) had a video about this. Apparently Bill Gates is a majority stakeholder in one of the companies make billions matching companies with productions. Sometimes years before the production takes place. Another example is Stranger Things and some cereal brand.

"Another example is Stranger Things and some cereal brand."

Obviously a less than successful product placement. /s

Pretty sure it was the Eggo waffle thing you are referring to. IMO they did a pretty decent job integrating that plot-wise.

Like it or not productions cost money and the people who pay those bills will always look for a way to share the load. If you don't like it prepare for $40/month Netflix.



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