Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) are becoming more common these days in the form of things like the TiVo, Optus MeTV and the Foxtel IQ and IQ2 devices just to name a few. The ability to record and timeshift content is a great convenience when there are regular programming clashes involving the shows you really want to watch.
However, one other great feature is the ability to fast forward through unwanted parts of the content. Advertisements are the obvious offenders here but there can often be other things that you want to skip (such as performances by lesser known celebrities, squabbling amongst judges, appearances from past contestants, etc). By skipping over unwanted content you can watch the bits that you are interested in and discard the rest.
The best approach I find is to let your content buffer or fully record before watching it. For content that is live you probably want to watch it close to it unfolding but you might be able to wait until halfway or two thirds into the show before watching it so you skip all the ads and filler to watch the important bits. Using this approach, you can burn through recorded content more efficiently without having to sit through time wasting stuff.