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The Pros And Cons Of Watching Live TV Rather Than Using A PVR

Updated on April 17, 2012
Should you embrace the PVR?
Should you embrace the PVR? | Source

Watching Television

There are a lot of options for watching television in 2012. There is live television and then there is the invention of the PVR box.

Live television refers to two types of shows. There are the shows that air on TV right as they happen (think Saturday Night Live) and there are the taped shows that are viewed as they are broadcast by TV channels (think Law & Order). Then there is the PVR box.

The PVR is an acronym that stands for personal video recorder. The PVR records television data in a digital format. The VCR used analog format to complete the task but is much less popular than the PVR these days. The PVR can record, rewind, fast forward, pause, and playback programs. No tape is needed. Awesome! When the comparison is made between live TV and the PVR, however, which one comes out on top? Watching live television has pros and cons compared to the PVR setting.

Will you be among the first?
Will you be among the first? | Source

The Advantages of Watching Live TV

There are several pros, or advantages, of choosing to watch television live rather than watching a show recorded on your PVR.

You Are Among the First

When you watch television live rather than watching it after it is recorded on the PVR, you have the thrill of being among the first to see the program. Perhaps it is the very first episode of a show that has been advertised for months. You get to be among the first viewers to watch and review the show! You are excited! If you PVR the show and watch it later, you may have missed out on the commotion caused by any exciting or controversial scenes.

Ability to Instantly Respond

When you watch live TV, you are able to respond right away to what you watch on the screen. You can phone your friend who lives in the same time zone as you watch the show and he or she can turn to the same channel to react to what you are saying.

You can also weigh in on the conversations about the television show that are occurring in real time over social media networks such as Twitter. Even while Dancing With The Stars is airs on television, fans of the show are sending Twitter messages about what they are seeing live. There are electronic conversations about what is happening on live TV.

If you wait to watch the show later by way of PVR, you may have missed the conversations. The hype may be over and you missed it because you did not have time to watch the recorded footage until two days after the program aired live on television!

Let's tweet about it. Right now!
Let's tweet about it. Right now! | Source

If you do try to weigh in on the TV program after the fact using Twitter, you may expect to receive responses to your tweets such as:

  • Hey, that's old news, get with the program!
  • Ummm, that is so two weeks ago
  • Daaang! You soooo out o' the loop!

The last tweet is my favourite. I would retweet it just for fun! There are not likely to be many people who want to engage in your discussion as they have moved on to the newest trend or issue of the moment.

What's that I hear? The surprise ending?!
What's that I hear? The surprise ending?! | Source

Avoid Accidentally Hearing Details

Another pro, or advantage, of watching live TV rather than using a PVR is that you avoid accidentally hearing what happened on the show before you get to watch it. When you PVR, you may not actually watch the recorded show until a few hours or a few days later. In the meantime, you could overhear conversations about the show. Clips of the TV episode may even end up on the entertainment news program you watch each night.

You may accidentally learn who got voted off American Idol or which hockey team lost in the national game. If you watch TV live, you get the information as it airs. The problem of hearing details before you have a chance to watch the PVR recording is avoided! When you overhear the best parts of the show, you may no longer be in the mood to watch the PVR recording, and your excitement over the show may have burst.

You are busy. You do not always have time to watch live TV.
You are busy. You do not always have time to watch live TV. | Source

The Disadvantages of Watching Live TV

There are disadvantages to watching TV live rather than using a PVR.

Busy Schedules

The PVR provides flexibility. You may be busy due to the nature of your work or lifestyle. You may be away from your television for long periods of time because you have to work, take care of family members, or a variety of other everyday tasks. Although you might like to, you cannot sit in front of the television screen all day!

The PVR provides a great solution for you. You are able to record the newest episodes of your favourite shows and watch them when you do have the time to just sit and relax. With live TV, you have to watch the show when it airs on your local channels or you miss it. There is not the convenience of the PVR, the box that allows you to watch shows when you are able to fit the viewing time into your schedule.


Let's face it; watching commercials during live TV can be tiring. You are at the best point in the episode and then the show cuts to a commercial. You are frustrated that now you have to wait 2.3 minutes (sometimes 2.5) to watch the next part of the show. You sit through a series of commercials that do not interest you. The show starts again, and about 12 minutes later you have to sit through more commercials.

With the fast forward button on the PVR, you are able to skim right through those commercials. You do not have to watch them if you have recorded the show. You save having to watch commercials that likely do not directly pertain to the show and may not interest you.

Nooo, I don't want to watch more commercials!
Nooo, I don't want to watch more commercials! | Source

Not Able To Fast Forward

With each commercial break that you fast forward, you shave minutes off of the total viewing time. The average hour long show is 36 percent commercials! Save yourself that 36 percent of time by pressing the record button on the PVR and watching the show later.

Even if you choose to use the extra bit of time to watch another recorded show, it is still like you have extra time now in your pocket compared to if you had watched the TV show live. You have 36 percent more time to engage in other activities than the person who watchs the show live! The live TV viewer can not fast forward the show at any time.

Should you answer the phone or watch live TV?
Should you answer the phone or watch live TV? | Source


The PVR is also great because you are able to pause what you are watching if anything disrupts your viewing of the program.

The phone may ring while you are on the edge of your seat, waiting to see whether Jessica Sanchez will be eliminated from American Idol tonight. Imagine if it is a long distance call from your close friend. While you could choose not to answer the phone, you really would like to talk to your friend. At the same time, you do not want to miss the best part of the show!

With live TV, you have to choose between the two options, but with a PVR you do not need to choose.

The PVR allows you to pause the action on the TV show. You can take the phone call or deal with the other distraction and return to the show later. You can stop it altogether if you need to and return later. You then press play on your remote and you resume watching the show from where you paused or stopped the episode. You have not missed the show, though you would have if you had only live TV.

The Balance

You may choose to use both options of watching TV live and also using the PVR. For example, you may watch live TV when you come home from work to rewind. The act of watching TV is mindless for you and simply a way to de-stress. You may choose to record TV movies during the week that you do not have time to watch and then view them by PVR on your day off Saturday.

Your preference towards watching live TV, using a PVR, or enabling a combination of the two techniques is a personal option. If you are distracted a lot while you watch TV or find you have little time to watch television live, the PVR may be your best option. If you like to be up to the minute on the latest shows, live television may better suit your needs.

Either way, enjoy your time to relax while watching television. Keep the pros and cons in mind the next time you deliberate whether to press the record button on the PVR or watch live instead!

Do You...

Do You Have A PVR Box?

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    Post Comment

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Mary, nope it must mean you are living an active life outside of TV! Good for you :) Thanks for stopping my hub.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      I never heard of PVR before, so I guess I don't have one, huh??? I watch very little TV. I'm too busy with HubPages!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Sunshine, you are too busy playing out in the sunshine to watch TV! Hey thanks for the comment - now all of my hubs have comments to them - Woot!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I don't think I've ever heard of a PVR until now. I think we do have one. My daughter and SIL mentioned recording shows but I only half listen to them. Maybe I should listen more :)


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