TiVo Says Nielsen Who?

from the wait,-we-can-do-that-ourselves... dept

A couple years ago, TV-ratings firm Nielsen started talking about how it was going to make a lot of money measuring TiVo usage. While it took them a few years to come out with the data, they’ve been trying to make the most of it (even as some question the methodology). Just recently, they announced that they were also going to start tracking how many people weren’t actually watching commercials when using a DVR. With all of this activity, perennially struggling TiVo probably realized they could do a lot of this themselves. After all, for years, TiVo has been able to release tidbits of data concerning how many people were rewinding certain things while watching TV. So, it should come as no surprise that TiVo is now branching out into the research data business, releasing reports about what people are and are not paying attention to on their TiVos. Of course, some say that TiVo’s data isn’t very useful, but that seems like a really short-sighted view. No, it may not be a complete representative sample of everyone watching TV — but the number of DVR users is increasing rapidly. Understanding what that actually means for TV viewing is going to be increasingly important, especially to those TV execs who always seem so worried about how TiVo will impact their traditional business models.

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Comments on “TiVo Says Nielsen Who?”

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mkam says:

Cost Increase and Competition

Maybe TIVO can sell this information and substidize that outrageous monthly fee. TIVO lost me a as customer during my last move. They have now increased there monthly fee to 13+ dollars a month. I still don’t understand what I am paying for either. Why does downloading a TV guide cost that much per month, when there are freely available sources on the ‘net. I really loved their interface, season passes and how user-friendly the box was, so I guess I was paying for that.

However when you sign up for new satelite service or cable they are offering the boxed from $5 – $10 per month. $5 extra per month for a better UI isn’t worth it.

Clint says:

Re: Cost Increase and Competition

worth is very relative and personal. I know many people who can’t stand anything other than TiVo UI. While I think it’s the best, the Time Warner one for example is good enough for me and doens’t bother me at all. I have 3 Series 2 TiVo’s with lifetime subscriptions and an HD DVR from Time Warner. If I didn’t get the lifetime subscription on them would I be willing to pay $13/month for 3 of them? I honestly don’t know. One thing the TiVo’s allow that others don’t is the ability to move video between them and to my PC. I use the feature on a dailey basis as well as to move off entire seasons to my PC for later viewing. Factor that ability in and maybe it is “worth” $13/month more to me for each unit.

Clint says:

Re: Re: Cost Increase and Competition

Absolutely! Watching TV on a DVR is just more efficient. You can almost get 2 1 hour shows in an hour+ a few minutes. And since I record on average 30 hours/week of programming that makes a HUGE differnce. If I see a commercial that looks interesting to me while zipping past it, I will go back and watch it, but for 99% of it…nope, just zoom by it all.

Tampa says:

F Tivo AND commercials!

I use Brighthouse. Digital cable with a DVR box, and High speed cable for 88.89 per month. I DVR everything! Commercials are a thing of the past for me. 25 minutes of commercials for every hour of programming (sometimes more) just doesn’t cut it. Unless the cable content providers start using product placement, they will increasingly continue to lose money on their archaic business plan.

Doug G. says:

Tivo steps

Tivo has been making a lot of progress improving the utility of their boxes. They are coming out with CableCARD Tivos that allow you to record digital cable without a separate cable box. New Tivos will have networking builtin, and they are already experimenting with downloading content over the net instead of recording it from cable. When we start downloading video podcasts to our Tivo and watching them on our TV, and when Tivo starts including video podcasts in their viewership information, then things will become really interesting.

Anonymous Coward says:

TiVo's got me

I love TiVo, there I’ve said it. And figure this, my first TiVo sat in my closet for over a year before i set it up. I got it as a gift (my brother has a company that upgrades TiVo’s for more storage and networking). Anyhow, I’ve tried the Time Warner dvr, and it sucks. There analog channels are horrible when you do a side by side comparrison. Everybody is screaming about fast forwarding through commercials. Get over it. That’s what’s going to keep on happening. I think it’s time to finish my breakfast now.

IT Techie says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The number of DVR are users are increasing rapidly.”

Ya dork. Ever go to English class? It should have been, “The number of DVR are users IS increasing rapidly.”

Please don’t tell me you are trying to correct his/her English. If you really need to know it is said, “The number of DVR users is increasing rapidly.” There is no “are”. If you are going to correct someone to be a pompus ass, at least do it correctly.

JerseyRich says:

I’ve had TiVo since 1999. The monthly fees are indeed too high, but the key is buying the lifetime plan. My first lifetime plan (I have 3 TiVos) cost $200. I still have that unit (14-hour) and it works great!

Do the math: I got it in September, 1999. If you figure service costs $10/month (as it used to), I broke even in 20 months (May, 2001) and have been getting…

…FREE TIVO FOR OVER 5 YEARS (and counting).

I broke even with my second TiVo box in April, 2006 and that one is now free too (see a pattern here?).

Every Christmas I buy someone in my family a TiVo box with Lifetime plan. After a few months of TiVo, they all say it’s the best gift they’ve ever gotten (excepting the birth of their firstborn).

dtivo-er says:

Re: Re:

Tivo got rid of lifetime service. It’s not an option anymore.

Part of the justification for the high cost is that they are giving away the boxes for free, or heavily subsidized. But I wish they had an option where you could buy the TiVo so that it wouldn’t be a loss to them (maybe $500) and then pay a reasonable monthly fee for the guide data/updates ($5/mo, for example) or even free with some advertising.

In any case, I have DirecTivos which cost me $6/mo total for 5. But then again, I don’t get some of the fancy new features on the Standalones.

Doug T (user link) says:

You mean they haven't been doing this all along?

If TiVo hasn’t been doing this all along, then perhaps they’re not as smart as I thought. How hard is it to track what their subscriber base is watching? Granted – the TiVo audience perhaps isn’t 100% representative of John Q. Public – but the data is so easy to get, I would have assume they were already eating Nielsen’s lunch. Perhaps I overestimated them….


Boogiebear says:

DVR & Commercials

I love my Dish DVR. I zip through most commercials, except when I see something interesting. I will sometimes watch a good commercial 2 or more times if it is funny or intriguing. If they want more people to watch their commercials, make them more interesting. The idea of somehow forcing people to not be able to skip through commercials is horrible. Before DVR, I remember the whole family running for the bathroom and the kitchen, and not even seeing a moment of any commercials. Even if the ad people are not aware of it, things are being seen more now, then pre VCR/DVR at least in my house. I am sick of seeing that smiling guy talking about the size of his penis, and it is on every channel, children programming or not. Why should we have to watch that?

angelique says:

only live ratings?

recently a producer of one of my fave tv shows told fans during ComicCon that they needed to watch the show live, not on their DVRs, because those are the only numbers that matter. advertisers pay for tv shows, and they automatically disregard anyone watching via Tivo because it’s assumed that those viewers are skipping their commercials. thoughts?

Motopsycho says:

live ratings

For the most part, it doesn’t matter. Unless you’re a nielsen family, the way you watch the show – or even IF you watch the show is irrelevant.

The jacked up thing about Nielsen’s is that I was contacted last month to be Nielsen family. They left a message on my voicemail saying they were sending me a form to track my watching habits. I was stoked to actually have a say in it 😛

After 4 weeks and nothing in the mail, I got another message on my voicemail saying I can stop tracking in my diary, and to call their number if I had any questions.

Of course they didn’t actually GIVE me the number, and never told me to actually START writing a diary, so I guess they really don’t care about the data either :/

Anonymous Coward says:

I built a Linux MythTV system, no monthly fees, it works great although it was a bear to set up.

The inevitiable response to commericial skipping will be overlaying ads on the content. We already see text ads at the bottom of the screen during shows and product placement. I predict the next thing will be small video ads in the corner.

The_Dock says:

TiVo Pricing

I do not currently have a TiVo, but all my friends do. I don’t really mind watching commercials because, for one thing, I like to rate commercials based on stupid, slightly funny, entertaining, and freakin’ hilarious.

The only thing I would want with TiVo is to record my favorite shows because I occasionally miss an episode or two through the season. I would probably still watched the commercials.

Someone told me that TiVo prices are going up because Satellite and Cable companies are being pressured by Advertising companies, so in turn they are pressuring the TiVo executives. I don’t really believe this, they just probably want more money.

I think I’ll wait for the service that allows on demand access to TV shows. So say on Sunday when I’m bored, I can watch the new episode of Monk which is suppose to come out the next Friday. I would totally pay for that.

Cassidy says:

Re: Re: Stop misquoting and read before you post!!

The prices above 12.95 a month all include a single tuner 80hr box as part of the monthly(or prepaid) fee.

19.95 a month is for the box and service for 1 year commitment.

18.95 a month for box and service for 2 year commitment.

16.95 a month for box and service for 3 year commitment.

12.95 a month for service-only, with 1-year minimum commitment, $200 early-termination fee.

6.95 a month for service-only if another box on the same account is being paid for under any of the above plans.

For either the 12.95 or 6.95 prices, you have to provide your own box(previously used or bought from a retailer).

After your initial commitment period (1,2, or 3 years) has passed, you can call TiVo to have your rate dropped down to 12.95(or the current service-only rate) or 6.95 if you have another qualifying machine on the account.

There are also pre-paid plans comparable to the combined box and service 1,2, and 3 commitment plans that are a wee bit cheaper than the monthly versions.

Lifetime is no longer an option *EXCEPT FOR* Humax branded TiVo DVRs. Lifetime remains an option for those boxes.

Also, all the plans are available for both the single and dual tuner TiVo boxes TiVo is currently producing and selling, but the Dual Tuner has an additional $30 “Box Upgrade Fee” at purchase time.

Flatlinebb says:

Another solution

I have 2 Tivo’s in my house. I regret now that I didn’t get the lifetime subscription when I bought them 3 or 4 years ago. But I rarely watch anything on them nowadays – my wife gets more use out of them. I download my TV shows via BitTorrent (yes, I used a dirty word), from sites like TVtorrents.com and eztvefnet.org, and hundreds of others. I have a fiber internet connection in my house, so the downloading doesn’t take any time at all. About an hour for an “hour” of programming (usually less if the episode is well seeded).

I can also download entire seasons of shows no longer on the air! I’m currently enjoying “Star Trek: Enterprise” – I can’t believe I missed all four seasons of this great show! Even better – most of the shows I download are ripped from either High-Def broadcast or the DVD release, and NO COMMERCIALS whatsoever!!!! (I don’t even get HD feeds for some of the channels like Sci-Fi – where do others get that from? But Battlestar Galactica is tasty in hi-def!)

I cue up downloads via an RSS client and let them “rip” overnight. By the time I sit down to watch TV the next day, I have all the weekly episodes of a few shows that I watch, a few old episodes of shows I missed or want to see again (like Dark Angel) and maybe a movie or two that was recently released. I can even download my football games as soon as the season starts! (Although, I am one of those people that doesn’t really care if I miss watching a game, if I know what the score is).

As far as Nielsen or Broadcast TV execs are concerned I do not exist. Probably the only agency that could track my viewing habits is my ISP – and they might be, who knows… The FCC has ruled that once a TV show has been broadcast, the Broadcast Company has no rights to tell you what you can do with it, including distributing it on the web. This makes it legal to download TV shows as far as I know. I could be wrong; people often are when it comes to legal matters.

Some people are catching one and use iTunes to distribute their shows, but I doubt I would ever pay for a show I will most likely only watch once. I watched Friends from beginning to the end and rarely do I care to watch a rerun on TV. I don’t care much for purchasing TV shows on DVD for exactly the same reason. Why bother when they are readily available on the Internet. My point is that there are technology solutions that have emerged that satisfy my need for entertainment, they work on my schedule, and they come to me with the least amount of distractions, like commercials or popups. Tivo used to be my choice precisely for those same reasons. But it no longer works as smooth as it used to: the interface has become slower, the extra junk has no added value for me, and the one thing I would LOVE to be able to do (upload any type of video file to my Tivo) I can’t. (There is a way to do it, but you are limited by file type and size).

It seems that any changes to the way we watch TV are directly motivated by money, not by serving the consumer. Who remembers companies trying to stop the VCR technology, because it meant people could not tape shows and movies? Incidentally, it was the porn industry that made the VCR popular – go figure! Thus the illegal or frowned-upon technology of today may become ubiquitous in the future. We see it happen all the time. Remember when the Rio was released? It was one of the first MP3 players and it would up in court, defending its existence. Now Apple has the hottest product with the iPod. Warner Bros. just signed a deal with the creator of BitTorrent to distribute their movies using this efficient technology. They must have realized there was an internet and it was on computers now (to quasi-quote Homer Simpson).

TedH says:

Music jukebox

I lubb my Tivo because it gives me the ability to listen to the enormous MP3 collection that’s sitting on my computer’s hard drive wirelessly through the Tivo interface.

If networks start showing ads at the bottom of the screens during the programs like some stations already do with promos for upcoming shows, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll…. read a lot more books or something.

Thank goodness that Turner Classic Movies doesn’t have commercials during programs anyway.

Flatlinebb says:

Re: Music jukebox

That was one of their first cool apps. I like the Photo display too, because the whole family could enjoy our photos on the big screen TV, instead of pawing at prints and leaving greasy fingerprints on all the photos. The only thing that I wish they did is allow you to listen to MP3s WHILE you were looking at Photos 🙁

SE says:

Tivo is Great!

I am in the process of selling my ReplayTV’s and switching over to TIVO. Just got a Dual-Tuner model last week and canceled one Replay box. Waiting for Series 3 Tivo for the rest.

Tivo is well worth the $12.95 per month and the Series 3 will tune Digital cable and HD via CableCard. MythTV will not be able to do that and only fully assembled and approved MMPC’s can get cable card certification.

Series 2 has lots of cool features for the home network like listening to Itunes and Podcasts.. It is cool..

My Tivo was $80 after rebates and I prepaid 3 years of service for $299……

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