The Back-up Channel

Although I'll often watch a television show through to its conclusion, I'll always have a second program prepped and ready to go on the "last channel" button&8212;my "back-up channel."

I don't completely understand why I do it, but I do know a lot of people also maintain a channel in reserve while watching the tube. I do know how I use this channel, however. As a minimum, the alternate station remains primed for viewing during my main channel's commercial breaks. And so: I'll stick with one channel for the bulk of the night, but during commercial breaks I'll watch my back-up channel.

But the split isn't always so "90/10." There's nothing to say that my time between the two channels can't be split more evenly. I might, for example, watch the first station until the first break, then switch to the alternate channel until its first commercial break. It's a convenient system that allows me to happy get the gist of multiple TV shows.

In fact, there's nothing to say I can't watch multiple shows in this manner, although it may require a little memory-work on my part as I cycle through three or more channels. It's a multi-tasking TV-watching system that allows me to follow my bliss.

But my bliss is threatened, and I'm afraid.

I own TiVo nowadays. Now, don�t get me wrong, TiVo's a wonderful device, and I'm extremely glad it's around to help me catch all the TV I didn't even know I've been missing. But TiVo is a two-edged sword: I can't change the channel while TiVo's recording. Sure, I can watch previously-recorded programs if I choose, but I have to restrain myself if I get a craving to switch to my back-up channel. I ask myself about the future of the back-up channel—but before I can answer myself I'm already thinking of something else.

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