TiVo today announced the creation of a new division to measure and study audience data and demographics for the TV programming recorded by its users. The TiVo Audience Research and Measurement division will, according to the company's press release, "offer advertisers and advertising agencies...second-by-second data and analysis of DVR viewing of advertising content."
That's the key, of course: commercials. With the exception of premium channels such as HBO and Showtime, the business of TV programming exists simply as a medium to sell ads. And the increasing popularity of DVRs such as TiVo--with their ability to fast-forward through commercials of recorded programming--is the biggest threat to the economics of the broadcasting industry since the invention of the remote control. Advertisers (understandably) don't want to pay for ads that people are just skipping over, while broadcasters feel shafted that shows that are time-shifted by viewers are simply omitted from the ratings. For example, ABC has floated the idea of disabling the fast-forward button on video recorders, just weeks after failing to convince advertisers to pay a premium for shows that are frequently recorded.
By partnering with the broadcasting and advertising industries (Nissan and ad giant OMD are on board as charter partners) and providing hyperdetailed data of the sort that current ratings juggernaut Nielsen could only dream about, TiVo is hoping to turn a potential liability into an asset. In the meantime, the company's next-gen Series3 box is said to be arriving soon.
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