Has TV Land Gone Loony?

I'm smart enough to know not to get my news from The Daily Show. But this week, during one of his semi-regular rants, comedian Lewis Black pointed out the absurdity of CBS (NYSE: CBS  ) advertising its fall shows on eggs. Eggs.

He's right, of course. What's next? Will GE (NYSE: GE  ) hype the new season of The Apprentice by bacon emblazoned with "you're fired!" across the fat?

Maybe. It's enough to say that TV execs have gone loony. I blame TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) . Now that Americans are tuning out commercials in ever-greater numbers -- 87% of those that own a digital video recorder also zap ads, according to Nielsen Media Research -- the networks had to do something.

But there's a difference between creative and ludicrous. Seriously, I'm quitting TV altogether if millionheiress Paris Hilton parlays her starring role in TheSimple Life into a talkie ad on a box of Quaker Instant Oatmeal. ("It's soooooooo easy to watch!")

More reasonable to me is CBS' plan to transform Grand Central Station billboards into TV sampling platters. On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the network would, in September, mix posters with Bluetooth technology that will allow passersby to download clips of fall programs to wireless devices. Featured shows will include Shark, Smith, Jericho, The Class, and CSI.

It's a novel approach, to be sure. But even if it helps CBS, I doubt it will do much of anything for advertisers. Instead, viewers will continue to TiVo new episodes and zap the ads at their leisure.

And that brings me back to the DVR pioneer. Between a stunning court victory over EchoStar (Nasdaq: DISH  ) and the desperate cry of advertising by grocery, all signs point toward TiVo as the portal through which the future of TV is being defined. It makes me wonder if Tivo's stock -- at a price-to-sales ratio of 3, and trading at a 25% discount to clone maker NDS (Nasdaq: NNDS  ) -- is undeniably cheap. Perhaps it's finally time to buy.

Don't touch that dial. Related Foolishness awaits:

TiVo is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Ask for us anall-access passand you'll get a backstage look at all of the stocks that are helping David and Tom Gardner beat the S&P 500 by more than 35% as of this writing.Go ahead; your pass is free for 30 days and there's no obligation to buy.

Fool contributorTim Beyersstill pines for TiVo in his family room, but has yet to own stock in TiVo or any of the other companies mentioned in this story. Get the skinny on all the stocks in Tim's portfolio by checking his Foolprofile. The Motley Fool'sdisclosure policyis always on the up-and-up.


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