TiVo & The Pop-Up Ads, Why?


In the early days of digital video recorders when folks like Michael Lewis would write tomes in praise of TiVo and its ability to skip ads. We seem to have come a full circle – now TiVo is experimenting with pop-up advertisements. Funny – how life turns out! The way I see it, TiVo is saying, well my ads are better than network ads. Perhaps – but to me, if you are charging $12.95 a month for the TiVo service, I feel, ads are intrusion into my time and space. I did not sign-up for that, and hence don’t want it.

Musing about this, I wondered if TiVo will be able to serve ads on the Comcast network? If no, then isn’t that service a better option for consumers. No device to buy, and no ads and a price point which eventually might be lower than what TiVo charges. I had suggested a premium strategy for TiVo. That idea won’t fly. This experiment runs the risk of antagonizing the TiVoted. Engadget says, they are still testing the ads, and it will be sometime before all users experience the misery. “One slightly mitigating factor: apparently you’re allowed to banish the ad by pressing the “Clear” button on your remote,” Engadget says.

PVRBlog is none too happy either and they write, “The way the ads appear now, it almost looks like your TiVo has been hacked by an outsider. TiVo’s UI and software engineers do some beautiful work, agonizing and testing each and every option, and customers are used to the friendly, eye-catching software, but this looks like something they were forbidden from working on.” There is more fear and loathing in TiVoLand. I think this might give alternatives, particularly Microsoft Media Center to gain traction with more independent minded folks. TiVo has to make decision, and soon: it has to either be an ad-delivery mechanism, or a service that makes television’s passivity more enjoyable. It cannot do both.



For me, one of the big advantage (besides time-shifting, etc) of DVRs is that I can skip commercials. This allows me to save time while watching my favorite programs. It does not matter to me if the ad I’m skipping is blurred or is replaced by a pop-up, as long as it doesn’t affect my ability to ignore what I choose to ignore. Once Tivo gets the bugs out so that the pop-up only covers the relevant ad, I don’t see my viewing behavior changing at all. That said, I’m hoping Tivo doesn’t try to push additional ads at me that would detract from my viewing experience (such as little ads in the corner during those numerous product placements in television shows these days). But I don’t see a conflict to Tivo’s value proposition presented by the pop-up ads.

Om Malik

I hope Apple takes a gander at this market because i think we need some consumer help. rest of the products are god awful and well tivo as they say is one eyed in the land of blind.

Aswath Rao

Amen, Charlie.

There is a lesson here for VoIP industry as well. Just like TiVo, they have taken a product and are making a service out of it. In time I hope one (soon after that many) pro-consumer company will demonstrate that this is a product after all.

Charlie Sierra

Hello DELL !!!

This is exactly what the boyz in Round Rock wanted to happen.

By now everybody should know that a TiVo is just a headless Linux PC with a large harddrive, and some special sauce software.

Either Dell or Apple should produce a pre-consumer TiVo-esqe box for this X-mas season and watch the cash registers ring.

Pretty soon, livingroom SANs will be the talk of the storage room. 100milllion plus HHs, and they all NEED a TeraByte of storage. Don’t they?

re:TiVo is always fun to watch a company commit suicide.

Om Malik

Thanks Oliver – well if that is the case, then the damn ads are going to be everywhere. but its going to be comcast who is going to be managing the ads? not sure about that and have not read anything much on that issue so far. any ideas>


i think that comcast demanded ability for tivo to put ads on screen (pop up or otherwise) as part of deal.

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