As the Fall Season Arrives, TV Screens Get More Cluttered - New York Times:
Kyra Sedgwick, star of “The Closer” on TNT, walks under a police tape and scans the screen with her flashlight. And every time she does, she makes Gretchen Corbin, a technical writer in Berkeley, Calif., irate.
The promotional ads for “The Closer” run in the bottom right of the screen during other TNT programs — a graphic called a snipe. But for Ms. Corbin, who sometimes watches movies that have subtitles, the tiny images block the dialogue.
“Some ad just took over the entire bottom of the screen so I missed what the characters said to each other,” said Ms. Corbin, describing a recent experience. “And it’s TV, so you can’t rewind.”
Snipes are just the latest effort by network executives to cram promotions onto television screens in the age of channel surfing, ad skipping and screen-based multitasking. At first, viewers may feel a slight jolt of pleasure at the sight of a new visual effect, they say, but over time the intrusions contribute to the sense that the screen is far more cluttered — not just with ads, but with news crawls and other streams of information.
For better or worse, viewers say, the additions are making the experience of watching television more closely mirror the feeling of using a computer.
That may be so, network executives say, but the extra content is here to stay. The snipes — not to be confused with bugs, those network logos that pop up in screen corners during shows — are important enough to the beleaguered television industry that the networks plan to tolerate the backlash.