TiVo to Sell Customer Viewing Data

By Julio Franco ยท 12 replies
Jun 2, 2003
  1. TiVo Inc. began offering advertisers and broadcasters second-by-second information on the commercials and shows its users are watching โ€” or skipping.

    Digital video recorders let TV viewers record programming onto a hard drive, pause live television and quickly skip commercials. The machines also can study their users' recording habits in order to detect preferences and suggest similar programs the viewers might like.

    Because the devices periodically connect to TiVo's computer servers to gather programming information, the San Jose-based company can collect detailed viewing data on its 700,000 subscribers.

    Source: Yahoo News.
  2. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    I am not sure how I feel about this.

    I am considering a multimedia upgrade, that being a widescreen or plasma screen TV, a TiVo or a DVD writer.

    TiVo is currently winning, but now I am not so sure.

    If this was mainly for anonymous viewing stats, like the work that's done to estimate viewing figures, then fine.

    However, if its to fuel some marketting crap, where I will start getting calls to my home trying to sell me things based on my viewing habits, then I find that deplorable.
  3. aoj145

    aoj145 TS Rookie Posts: 82

    I've had a Tivo for three years now and it's definately the best home theatre appliance I have. I'd even put my Tivo over my DVD player.

    The privacy issue has always been confusing. They gather you're viewing data they compile it and then resell it. They just don't attach your name to the information when they resell it so you're viewing preference are still private.

    So for instance it doesn't say that "aoj145 watches ER every week", but they sell the information to say "300,000 people watch ER in St. Louis" or something to that effect.

    Anyway, who cares who knows what you watch on TV. If a stranger walks up to you on the street and says "Do you watch Seinfeld?" you'd reply "Yes.". If someone knows it because you set your Tivo to record Seinfeld then everyone gets freaked out.

    You think TechSpot doesn't record that you visit the website and then tells it advertisers how many people visit it each day?
  4. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    If what you say is true, aoj145, then I think that's fine. I will still buy a TiVo.

    As I said, if its just for anonymous viewing statistics then that's fine.

    This is where I must beg to differ.

    I am completely cool with anonymous viewing stats, but anything that has my actual name in it is going to make me unhappy.

    First and foremost, I'm not happy about a service that I pay for being used to help companies advertise at me. There's enough adverts and spam in this world, and as far as I am concerned, no one needs any more. No one apart from advertising agents and marketting consultants, anyway.

    And even if the information is not used for anything, I still am not happy about it existing if its not in an anonymous form. Information is power, and when you know a little bit of information about someone, that's the key to learning a lot more.
  5. aoj145

    aoj145 TS Rookie Posts: 82

    It really is a very cool device. Being able to pause TV, record without VHS tapes/DVD's and the ability to fast forward commercials really changes the way you'll watch TV.

    You'll probably watch a little more TV after you buy one, but you'll watch it more effectively. Instead of getting home late at night flipping through channels with nothing on you can easily go to a program you recorded earlier and watch it on your timetable. I hardly ever watch programs when they actually air, but watch them when I've got time and zip through the commercials.

    Sorry, I get excited when I talk about Tivo.... :)
  6. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Yeah, I am really excited about a Tivo. I know that they aren't exactly news, but I think that it is going to become a popular home entertaining appliance in the future soon. Get ready to hear a lot more about these kinds of devices in the near future.

    I really like the idea of being able to pause live TV.

    I think that this sort of thing only begins to come into its own when you get cable TV, or something similar.

    Doesn't it run a form of Linux? And you can do a hardware hack and upgrade the hard drive to a bigger size, can't you?
  7. aoj145

    aoj145 TS Rookie Posts: 82

    Yes, under the hood it's really just a pretty simple Linux box.

    I haven't messed with the hacking myself, but I know a few guys here in the office who have.

    Actually, Tivo's message boards more or less are OK with the hardware hacking and adding an additional hardware as long as you leave the OS and configuration alone. They're against people hacking and sending the video files back and forth since that's against copyright law.

    If I remember right the partition is proprietary so you can only send the video files from Tivo to Tivo and not from Tivo to PC.

    The hardware supposeduly is pretty easy to upgrade though so you can add an additional EIDE hard drive to it. Seems like on the original Tivo's by Phillips they already had the chassis, ide cable and power cable ready for a second drive. All you had to do was plus in the second drive to upgrade, although they recommended backing up the initial drive.

    Not sure how easy it is to do it to the Tivo Series 2. You can check out their forums at www.tivocommunity.com.

    Of course the Tivo Series 2 I have has an 80gb hard drive so it's 80 hours in basic quality or 24 hours in best quality. I rarely store more than a few hours at a time. The broadband ability on the Series 2 is pretty awesome. Finally allowed me to get rid of my phone line.
  8. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Do you have any good links for a guide to upgrading the HDD on the tivo?

    What kind of processor does it have?
  9. aoj145

    aoj145 TS Rookie Posts: 82

    I never looked into upgrading the Tivo Series 2 and I don't remember the processor in the previous model. :confused:

    Check out the Tivo Underground and Tivo Upgrade Center sections of their forums at the link I posted above.

    That should have all the guides and technical information for both models.
  10. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

  11. RustyZip

    RustyZip TechSpot Paladin Posts: 322

    Just a thought, Phantasm66 - Have you considered about getting Sky + instead ?? I was thinking of getting a Tivo, but now im more inclined to go the Sky + route. Although i havn't seen either of them in the flesh on the go...
  12. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    What made you choose this service over Tivo?
  13. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Oh, by the way, there's LOADS on info in the link I attached. There's a link to a .iso file that is only 10 MB, but can be used to create a linux boot cd loaded up with tools for upgrading your Tivo's HDD.

    There's very extensive instructions, however some more pictures about the actual hardware operations would have been nice, and maybe an ***** version as well would have been nice.
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