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Friday, November 26, 2004
More on TiVo Changes
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:38 am

TiVo Pop-Up Ads Raise Consumer Concerns

Digital video recording pioneer TiVo Inc. has long promised “TV Your Way.” But the company’s plans for pop-up ads and restrictions on copying have sparked worries that the service may be eroding consumer control in favor of Hollywood and advertiser interests.

Really, this all sounds to me like a route to financial stability and profitability for the company, and therefore to the longevity of the product.

TiVo officials say that starting in March users will begin to see static images, such as a company logo, appear on their television screens as they fast-forward through commercials. The billboard-like ads %u2014 which will last about four seconds for a fast-forwarded 30-second spot %u2014 may offer giveaways or links to other ads.

For some ads, viewers could choose to provide advertisers with their contact data so they can get more direct marketing.

A pop-up recording “tag” is also planned: a “thumbs-up” icon would appear during TV show promotions and allow users to instantly place those programs in their recording queue.

The tag thing is already active, and strikes me as a really good idea. The concept of a static image that pops up while I am fast-forwarding strikes me as so utterly unobtrusive as to not warrant concern.

Quite frankly, folks who are getting all upset about this are people who live in a fantasy-land where consumers will never have to deal with commercials, yet still get substantial amounts of frree content. If one doesn’t want commercials, programming is going to have to be radically more expensive. I don’t want to pay for everything I watch and having a static image pop-up beats watching real commericals.

Indeed, as the article notes:

Industry watchers say TiVo has no choice but to make peace with networks, cable and advertisers.

“TiVo has to become more advertising-friendly because, at the end of the day, TV runs on advertising dollars and companies that are part of that food chain have to acknowledge that,” said Tim Maleeny, director of strategy at Publicis & Hal Riney, a San Francisco-based advertising firm.

I can understand some annoyance over this:

Some skeptics also worry that TiVo’s planned use of Macrovision Corp.’s new copy-protection scheme signals more boundaries on what shows they can or cannot record — even as TiVo prepares to unveil a new service later this year, called TiVoToGo, that will let users record shows onto DVDs or transfer them to computers.

Macrovision has developed a feature that will allow content providers — the people who produce television shows — to place restrictions on how long a digital video recorder such as TiVo can save certain kinds of programming. For instance, movies could disappear after seven days.

TiVo officials say the new restrictions will apply only to pay-per-view and video-on-demand programs. If Macrovision expands the feature to any other content, the deal is off, said Brodie Keast, executive vice president of service business at TiVo.

However, if it is indeed just for PPV flicks, then it hardly strikes me as unfair.

Filed under: Pop Culture, TiVo | |Send TrackBack

2 Comments »

  1. I’m not so much worried about the erosion of the advertising wall as the erosion of copying ability. We don’t realize how good we had it with the vcr, when they couldn’t prevent you from recording, and they couldn’t come in later and erase your tapes.

    Comment by bryan — Friday, November 26, 2004 @ 1:00 pm

  2. Here’s a better idea — have TiVo put up lots of pictures of naked chicks and promise free beer delivery during football games.

    Comment by John Lemon — Friday, November 26, 2004 @ 11:02 pm

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