Do you suffer from PVR guilt?

Guilt Do you own a PVR? Have you ever felt that nagging feeling that you aren’t keeping up with all your recorded shows? If so, you’re not alone.

Turns out there is a name for this technologically-imposed feeling of inadequacy: TiVo Guilt.

As an article over at points out, in Canada this should more appropriately be called PVR or perhaps DVR Guilt since the majority of us Canucks don’t use the TiVo service for our digital recording needs.

The article quotes Brad Berens, the chief content officer at iMedia Communications as saying that:

I think that if you give things a name, that’s a wonderfully empowering gesture … because now [viewers] know what it is and know that they can take control of their media choices, they can take back that remote and hit the delete button and not feel guilty – all you need to know is that other people are feeling it, and then I think the guilt can go away.

Now, I don’t know if Berens possesses a degree in psychology, but knowing that I can now call this feeling by a pseudo-clinical name doesn’t change things one bit for me. I still get that strange sense that I’m somehow falling behind when I open my PVR list up.

Moreover, the term PVR Guilt needs to have a companion term for the feeling of satisfaction you get after watching a recorded show and subsequently deleting it from your PVR’s hard drive. Anyone have a pithy suggestion?

I’ve also noticed that PVR Guilt can easily evolve into a much more sinister condition which I’ll call PVR Anxiety Syndrome. It can occur when the amount of recorded material on your hard drive starts to approach 80% of the device’s capacity. This is about the time when you start to realize that shows which you’ve recorded, but haven’t had time to watch or to ‘protect’ will start to delete themselves in favour of newer recordings. Much like PVR Guilt, I’m betting that most of you won’t find having a name for this situation (or knowing that others suffer from it too) any help in overcoming its effects.

Clinically addicted TV recorders can potentially stave off their anxiety indefinitely by moving to an expandable PVR system like Bell TV’s 9242 HD PVR. I think Rogers has a similar option. The upside is that you can archive your recorded content onto external hard drives. The downside is two-fold: first, these external drives will cost you… up to $300 for a 1TB unit. Serious archivists could run up a pretty hefty storage bill. Secondly, this measure will only increase the effects of PVR Guilt as your sub-conscious continues to tally the hours and hours of programming that is accumulating slowly but steadily.

We recently bought a DVD-recorder, which I foolishly thought would be a good compromise between paying for a hefty PVR upgrade and having to furiously delete shows and movies. Sadly, it hasn’t worked out at all. Not only must I record the shows in real-time to DVD, which is super time-consuming, but the quality is barely VHS-calibre. This thanks to the limited input options on the DVD recorder: I have my choice of composite or S-video for the video and only analog stereo for the audio. Worse still, my PVR only has HDMI or composite video outputs, which means I’m limited to the composite input on my DVD recorder. Digital video? Forget it. 5.1 surround – or even Dolby ProLogic? Nope.

Looks like I’m stuck taking "back that remote and hit the delete button and not feel[ing] guilty" about it. Right. Good thing I love my PVR.



  1. omess

    Even though I suffer from PVR guilt, I still adore it. I barely watch any live tv anymore. I just record the show and start 10-20 minutes after it has started on tv so I can fast forward all the commercial. The 10-minutes is really worth it


  2. Steve

    I agree, I can never go back to live tv anymore… I now have 3 pvrs. It's nice to watch an hour long show in 40 mins.


  3. Donna Heron

    I have a Tivo. I can transfer programs from the Tivo to my personal computer to watch at a later date. As well, why worry, all the programs come back on as reruns later anyway!


  4. Raining on your PVR parade

    You guys are seriously going about this the wrong way.

    Invest in a cheap PC + TV tuner. Massive sized hard disks are cheap.1 TB drives are easily found for $100 or less.

    No monthly fees. Far more flexibility.

    Why pay insane amounts of money for storage and monthly fees for absolutely nothing?


  5. Simon Cohen

    @ Raining:
    The PC+Tuner solution is definitely cheap and expandable, but it is also limited.. it does not play nicely with satellite or digital cable boxes, and most folks don't watch TV on their PC or have a PC close enough to their TV to make it viable. Lastly, there's no beating a PVR's convenience – one-button recording and playback using your regular TV remote is as easy as it gets.


  6. John M

    I have two HD PVRs and I would never go back now. I don't have a Blu Ray player, but that doesn't really matter, because 95% of what I record on the PVR is in HD, and I can watch all the movies and shows I can stand! If you think you can fall behind with just one PVR, try two for double the anxiety! This article hit it on the head, as there are some days I am doing watching marathons just to catch up.


  7. Gwen

    Get a LIFE….move off the couch and away from the remotes and actually LIVE your life instead of watching someone elses'….you'll feel much better and be guilt free.


  8. dougo13

    Well Gwen, I've done all that and continue to do so. But I also have a massive video library going back to the late 70s. I have currently 5 DVD recorders and 2 satellite TV systems including one PVR. That said, I am way behind on my watching and archiving. And I don't just watch domestic content either. I watch many foreign movies old and new, TV series from the UK, sports from Mexico, etc. It's amazing what culture you can suck up watching someone else's TV. You sound like you need a refresher course in entertainment. Today it's snowing out so I might go out and play in the snow or maybe I'll watch a Thai movie I recorded on my PVR last night. As to the fellow lambasting DVD recorders, they are on their way out thanks in part to outfits like the RIAA in the states that our new government wants to model our laws after. That effectively killed off any hope of getting new equipment like Blu-Ray DVD recorders (available in Japan) as well as direct copy recording. Many channels now block you from transferring their programming at all with "no copy" flags that are detected by newer DVD recorders. Thankfully, my old equipment has no such limitation but it's getting harder to maintain them. PVRs are fine and dandy but the satellite ones have a limit on how much you can record and store. No offloading content in Hi-Def or surround sound at all. Pity that….