I’ve been reviewing tech products for 25 years, but this is the first time I’ve ever written about a strip of elastic.
It’s called the TickerBlocker. “What we’ve created,” the inventors wrote to me, “is a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem: spoilers for sports fans, and information overload for everybody.”
They were referring to the information ticker that scrolls across the bottom of your TV screen on sports and news channels.
I’ve had my beefs with those tickers for years. They’re distracting. They’re unnecessary. They presume to know your reading speed. (In Europe, they don’t actually scroll. Each headline appears, in full, at the bottom of the screen, and lingers for a few moments. That’s less annoying, and you can read at your own speed.)
When I complained about that ticker in a 2008 column, a reader wrote: “David: I’ve been hoping that TV manufacturers would add a ‘cover the crawl’ feature that would just put a black bar over the crawl.”
I wrote back: “I love it! But cynic that I am, I’m quite confident that no TV company will ever offer this feature; the cable companies would scream bloody murder. Although there’s nothing to stop some enterprising entrepreneur from marketing a horizontal strip of black vinyl that you tape onto your screen yourself…”
I was kind of joking. But a couple of enterprising entrepreneurs took me seriously—which brings us, six years later, to the TickerBlocker.
It’s a stretchy black six-foot strip of elastic with Velcro on the ends. You’re supposed to strap it across your flat-screen TV, blocking the ticker.
I mean, how dumb, right? But also how brilliant! I know—I know—there are people out there who would absolutely install this thing. Especially since it’s just $10.
The research for this review took all of about six minutes. I tuned in to ESPN. I peeled the adhesive off of the Velcro pad—
—and affixed it to the back of the set. The other Velcro patch went on the other back side. The corresponding Velcro on the ends of the TickerBlocker gripped the patches nice and tight.
The only even vaguely high-tech part of the whole thing is that the elastic remains opaque no matter how much you stretch it.
What I discovered is that, well, the TickerBlocker blocks the ticker. On ESPN, anyway. Perfectly.
It’s not tall enough, however, to cover the ticker on news stations. On Bloomberg, for example, it looks kind of pathetic:
That’s probably because the inventors of the TickerBlocker were sports fans. When they watched a game live, the ticker kept revealing the final scores of games they were recording and had planned to watch later. The ticker ruined the surprise.
In any case, I suppose you could probably get two or three of these things to block the news stations’ tickers. (It’s $18 for two, $24 for three.)
Each comes with extra Velcro patches, but you can move and adjust them, which I did. They didn’t leave any adhesive on my TV.
As the creators point out, March Madness is “prime TickerBlocker time,” what with all those overlapping basketball games on TV. They also maintain that their elastic strip makes TV less annoying for seniors and kids with attention disorders, but that may be stretching it (heh).
So there you go: a $10 strip of elastic that does just what it says. Now you know.
See also: The pre-cut LED indicator light blockers, Light Dims.