DVR-ing the Open

If, like me, you’re trying to catch as much tennis action from the U.S. Open as you can, I hope that you have joined the DVR age (and I hope, for your sake, that it’s not TiVo, with all its cutesy sound effects and its attempts to predict what you’ll like).

Pre-DVR, I spent far too many late Augusts whiling away the day into the night in front of the TV. I muted the commercials and pretended to be getting something done during those three-to-five minute lulls. (Sure, I taped many matches on VCR, but the longer you recorded, the worse the playback quality, and so ultimately that route just wasn’t meant to be.) These days, life during the Open has become blissfully controllable and streamlined, and not a moment too soon: is it just me, or are the commercial breaks getting a little more dense, and a little more frequent every year?

Here are a few great revelations that have sprung from the use of a DVR:

  • You needn’t watch every point of a match.
  • Watching for the next appropriate stopping point at 300x speed hones your vision.
  • Commercials. No, but thank you.
  • You can halve (or even third) your overall viewing time.

For seamless DVR viewing — in which you’ll be able to fast forward through not only commercials, but also promos, mini-drama biopics, and pre-match interviews — here’s a good rule of thumb: allow a lead time of 45 minutes to one hour if you’re watching USA Network coverage. Allow three hours if it’s on CBS.

Michael Shaw is currently following the Open from his couch on the West Coast.

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Comments

  1. says

    But some of us like the prematch interviews! If only to gape in amazement at just how massive Mary Jo Fernandez’s forehead is. [PS: I love during the US Open series when they let coaches come out between sets, because Kuznetsova's coach always comes out and they communicate in Spanish. This allows Giant Forehead Lady herself to translate for us. I think it's ridiculous that the coaches have to be miked so we can listen in but then they speak in Russian or Italian or British and we can't understand anyway! I don't mean they should all speak in English, I just mean why should we get to listen in at all? Luckily, Forehead helps us all out at least as regards the Spanophone players.]

    I can’t actually watch a whole match anyway. My trick is to skip to the second set of a women’s match or the third of a men’s match. This makes things more dramatic and cuts my viewing time to almost nothing.

    Still, I like some of the ads. I’m especially fond of this year’s McEnroe dispute resolution spots for AmEx.

    But the ones I hate, which were mostly during the US Open series, are the ones for some kind of watch and the announcer goes: “Unstoppable. Nicole Vaidisova is. And so is her stupid watch.” What? The Unstoppable is clearly not a question. “Unstoppable? Nicole Vaidisova is!” Makes sense. But the weird grammar just bugs the hell out of me. The one with Eli Manning is worse, because not only do I have to put up with “Unstoppable. Eli Manning is,” but also I have to look at his ugly face.

  2. says

    Maybe I’m a would-be purist, but I just can’t imagine watching the final set solely of a tennis match in a major tournament. It’s about the path to get there, to me. You get more perspective of what a match like Haas vs. Blake came to, and how spent they must truly be.

  3. Michael Shaw says

    Hi Josh, John, and Craig:

    Josh- interesting dis of Mary Jo; I hadn’t noticed her forehead as being an issue in the past. You have to feel a bit sorry for the lady, for having to conduct those tedious before- and after-match interviews though, don’t you?

    Meanwhile, are you aware that she’s married to Tony Godsick, who happens to be Roger Federer’s agent/manager? It’s all far too incestuous (and maybe nepotistic), isn’t it?

    I’m going to go ahead and disagree w/you re: the McEnroe AmEx commercial- it’s more poison for our bodies and minds.

    Jon and Craig:

    Let me meet you and Josh halfway:
    in watching matches, I would suggest that it makes the most sense that you-
    watch every point for the final of a Slam;
    maybe every point, perhaps minus a few games at the start, of a semifinal;
    and so on from there. Quarters are good to watch every point of as well, but time-wise that’s not always realistic. For example, if you watched the Blake-Agassi 5-set classic from 2 years ago, you would have been fine catching the match from late in the 5th set on and still had the full impact of the drama. 1st sets can be deceiving: Lopez played an amazing 1st set, and into the 2nd, but by this time this year, you may very well only remember that Federer won fairly easily.

    If you really have the time, and can watch every point of most matches of the tournament, and you can do it without feeling guilty, then good on ya’ mate.
    My stragegy this year is to consider the bigger picture: if I have 3 or 4 matches still to watch, cause it’s in the 1st week, then I may very well fforward to the end of sets once there’s a break. The tighter and more dramatic a match is, the less skipping I’ll do, as a general rule.

    Happy Open watching-

  4. says

    ^ Michael, that’s a good rule re: the tighter a match is, the less skipping ahead. For those of us who don’t have DVR or the like, it works to maybe read a magazine or mail off bills while watching, or chat up some chums in the parlor.

    When it comes to just watching the finals point-by-point, that could backfire. Yes, the quarters often have the tournaments’ best tennis; the finals are often duds (see: Serena vs. Masha ’07 Aussie, et al.).

    Anyway, strokes for folks.

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