of course we are paying for commercials when we buy products. they are thinking about the future. the concern is that when more and more of the audience is skipping commercials, that the companies that make these products will stop putting the money you have spent into tv advertising. when the advertising goes away, the tv shows could go away.
of course, that won’t happen. they will find a solution rather than allow tv shows to disappear. but rest assured, it is a problem.
Also, it’s usually the other way around in your steak sauce scenario. Restaurant chains get products for free or a discounted price when they agree to advertise and/or use it excusively. Steven Spielberg was allowed to beat up those Ford Explorers for free when he made Jurassic Park just because he put them in the film. It worked too. The Explorer was a huge hit after the film.
product placement works fine for me. I notice it, but it hardly bothers me at all. as long as it is subtle, unlike Michael Bay’s retarded placements. His movies look like the ads in The Truman Show.