Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I was going to buy a TiVo for Christmas . . .

. . . but there are many reports today about how TiVo now wants to put banner advertising on screen when you fast-forward through commercials and track your viewing habits to target that advertising.  From an article in the LA Times:

By March, TiVo viewers will see "billboards," or small logos, popping up over TV commercials as they fast-forward through them, offering contest entries, giveaways or links to other ads. If a viewer "opts in" to the ad, their contact information will be downloaded to that advertiser — exclusively and by permission only — so even more direct marketing can take place.

By late 2005, TiVo expects to roll out "couch commerce," a system that enables viewers to purchase products and participate in surveys using their remote controls.

Perhaps even more significant is TiVo's new role in market research. As viewers watch, TiVo records their collective habits — second by second — and sells that information to advertisers and networks.

The very thing that attracts people to TiVo is drastically changing; reports about there being a paradigm shift in television advertising were absolutely correct: TiVo was disruptive enough to change television advertising forever.  What nobody really contemplated too hard in the past was that TiVo would provide the platform for the new world of television advertising.

My problem with advertising on TiVo when trying to avoid traditional television advertising is the fact that I would be paying monthly (or would have paid $299 for lifetime service) for the service.  If I have to watch ads, it seems that part of the advertising revenue should be subsidizing my monthly or lifetime fees.  I would hope that TiVo would offer a premium, totally advertising-free service, but I unfortunately am not optimistic that they will.

Looks like I will be looking at media center PCs instead of TiVo.  I figure that the cost of media center PC would run me about the same as the 140gb TiVo with lifetime service and a wireless internet adapter.  Media center PCs have much of the same TiVo functionality without monthly service fees or pop-up advertising.  Add to that a Sling Box and I would be able to watch any of my media anywhere I have an internet connection (yes, this will work for TiVo as well).

Any comments from anyone?  Anyone have a media center PC that they want to reccommend?  Anyone want to persuade me back to TiVo?

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