Jackson's Super Bowl flash grabs TiVo users

The "wardrobe malfunction" that bared one of the pop diva's breasts during the Super Bowl halftime show was replayed a record number of times by TiVo users, a company representative says.

Ben Charny Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Ben Charny
covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
Ben Charny
2 min read
Users of TiVo, the digital video recorder system that lets viewers pause and "rewind" live television broadcasts, apparently couldn't get enough of pop diva Janet Jackson's fashion fiasco during the Super Bowl halftime show Sunday.

The baring of one of Jackson's breasts at the end of her duet with Justin Timberlake, which caused a flood of outraged phone calls to CBS, was replayed a record number of times by TiVo users, a company representative said Monday.

"The audience measurement guys have never seen anything like it," said a TiVo representative. "The audience reaction charts looked like an electrocardiogram."

Typically if TiVo users watch a particular moment in a given broadcast nearly twice as many times as any other moment in the show, that will make it the broadcast's most popular moment. Such was the case with the infamous kiss shared by Britney Spears and Madonna during the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.

On Sunday, TiVo subscribers hit rewind on the Jackson-Timberlake incident nearly three times more than they did on any other moment during the broadcast. That makes the moment the most rewatched ever during a broadcast in three years of measuring audience reactions, a TiVo representative said. The findings were based on an anonymous sampling of 20,000 TiVo subscribers who watched the Super Bowl.

CBS, which aired the Super Bowl, and MTV, which produced the halftime show, both said they had no idea the performance would include such a display. Both companies apologized for the incident. Timberlake referred to the flash as a "wardrobe malfunction."

"I am sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl," Timberlake said in a statement. "It was not intentional and is regrettable."

Nevertheless, the incident has sparked an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission, as well as an avalanche of criticism against CBS and MTV.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell described the flash as "classless, crass (and) deplorable."

Powell also said he suspects the show of skin was a "stunt" rather than an accident. A story posted on MTV.com on Wednesday afternoon carried the headline "Janet Jackson's Super Bowl show promises 'shocking moments.'" The story has since been pulled but was viewable Monday via a Google cached page.

Broadcasters that violate the FCC's decency regulations can be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.