TiVo Spam Machine Revs Engines

Dave Zatz —  December 9, 2008 — 32 Comments

tivo-pause-ad

In case the TiVo Central banners, Now Playing List banners, Music & Photos menu banners, banners after recordings, and commercial button overlays weren’t enough, TiVo’s now pitching ads that render while programming is paused:

Using the TiVo Pause Menu, advertisers can, for the first time, reach audiences with targeted product messages displayed within the pause screen of a Live or Timeshifted program. The feature provides an original solution for advertisers seeking to capture the fast-forwarding viewer. It’s another example of how TiVo offers unique and different solutions for advertisers looking to get viewers to watch advertisements

I get the need to increase revenue through advertising, however TiVo’s losing subscribers and should proceed cautiously in the ways (and frequency) that they spam us. After all, their ability to pitch ads will diminish should their customer base continue to shrink.

At the moment, only Series2 owners are subjected to the new intrusion – as part of the 9.3.2 update. However, it’s safe to assume Series3 and TiVoHD units will receive a similar treatment in the near future.

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32 responses to TiVo Spam Machine Revs Engines

  1. This may just be the straw that breaks the camels back.
    I didn’t mind the ads on the main menu screen as I don’t spend a lot of time there.
    I really don’t mind the ads that show once a program is finished.
    I do mind the ads in the Now Playing screen, this really does drive me nuts.
    I am really going to mind the ads on the Pause screen.
    I better be able to press clear to remove it, because I pause to get a view of what is on the screen.
    What really drives me crazy is that I pay TiVo every month for this. It’s the same thing that drive me nuts about paying for cable TV to only get more ads.

  2. From your message on twitter, I had to come to see what image you’d create. Well done!

    I’m not sure that TiVo has left anything out now. “Thumbs Up” info buttons during ads and show previews, some commercials have pop ups that appear when you fast forward, and now an ad when you pause TV? I thought them adding ads into folders and on the main menu was bad enough.

    Don’t most services these days stop serving up ads when you subscribe and not the other way around?

  3. The original image that I modified is here, in case anyone thought this was real. (Though I imagine this is fairly accurate in terms of placement/rendering.) My mockup originally said “Sh*t” but Mom reads the blog and I wouldn’t want to offend her. ;)

  4. Weak sauce. TiVo seems to have gone to the Dark Side for reals this time. I would seriously flip out if I had a TiVo and was paying that huge monthly fee then get this kind of nastiness rammed down my throat.

    Way back when I had a TiVo ( 2004 ) I don’t remember it being evil, in fact I don’t remember ads at all. Neuros looking better and better with my new $9 DTV converter and rabbit ears…

    That’s some nice Photochopping BTW!

  5. Maybe I’m alone, but I don’t hate the idea pause ads. ReplayTV experimented with pause ads for a while, but all that came of it were some contest promotions. Maybe if they’d actually sold some advertising, they’d still be in business today. I hate the main menu and now playing ads, though…I’d happily trade in-menu ads for (clearable) pause ads.

  6. I do not think TiVo subscriber issues have to do with ads though. I have participated in the TCF for a few years now and I have frequently laid out the challange of actually stop using a TiVo DVR to those who complain about ads. Even the bitterest opponents of ads on TiVo are stil lin the forum and still using TiVo DVRs.

    Are ads something I look forward to on the TiVo? of course not – but it is reliability, features and cost that drive sub numbers.

    Plus only 28,000 standalone subs were lost and we do not know how many of those are lifetimes rolling off, 1 year free after transferring lifetime rolling off, etc.. Whne a DirectTV TiVo with HD makes it debut I expect that sub numbers will start to climb again. Stand alone subs will vary depending on the economy.

  7. PS -hey Dave, what about the roll over ads you interjected into my posts? ;)

  8. I have to second that I don’t really find the ads that annoying, and I kinda doubt the average TiVo user will either. I mean, if I’m paused, I don’t care what’s on the screen – if I care what’s on the screen, I have to do work anyway to get the progress bar off, so this doesn’t really change that effort much (and I usually only do it to read Chuck’s novelty cards).

    In fact, if they could actually target them well enough, I might actually like them. For example, if I’m watching Big Bang Theory and they were to put up an ad for SheldonShirts.com, I’d probably check it out.

  9. I agree with xdreamwalker: If I have the programming paused, at times it’s to view or review some bit of text that I missed the first time around, or something else that may have caught my eye (think Ghost Hunters on Scifi.) But a majority of the time it’s paused, it’s due to me getting something to eat, answering the phone or door, using the facilities – all activities where I won’t be viewing the TV anyway. So I guess my point is there will either be a pause ad that is in the way (upsetting a consumer), or completely missed.

  10. Glad you included the original image, which clarifies everything.

    It’s NOT an AD, it’s the link to Swivel Search, which brings up related items like future showing times, actor listing, other films by same actors ..etc. It’s all about extended recording options, not advertisement.

  11. Let me clarify the above comment: if they start ads, that’s a betrayal of paying customers – after all, it’s not a free service.

    The point I made is that this may be the future plan, but for now it’s all about Swivel search, and that’s what the original screen showed.

  12. Zoli, I suggest you read TiVo’s press release I linked to (and quoted) and the Multichannel article which now has a picture of what the ad will look like – not much different than my rendering.

  13. You know what, TiVo? I love you, but I can learn to love U-Verse too. Push me too far and I will let one of those pushy salesmen into my house. At least they only get into my living room the once.

  14. I’ve been living with this for about a week now I guess. One thing I have to point out is, at least for right now, you can hit the down arrow button and the “link” goes away. I’m sure this won’t be the case when it becomes a paying ad but for now at least.

    But beyond that point, there is something very irksome about the whole thing. We pay TiVo already for this service I shouldn’t have ads shoved in my face when I’m already giving them money every month. It isn’t that I find them that big of a deal, I really don’t, I just think there is a moral issue with they way they are behaving as a company. The ONLY reason I’ve stayed with TiVo is because my local cable provider Mediacom is SO behind the times that their DVR’s lag when ffd, rw, and play is so horrible. If I could find a better alternative I would likely switch. If I get that HD TV this Christmas I just might jump ship.

  15. Do not forget that Tivo is really your only DVR option if you have “basic cable” which is analog cable, which is still a much cheaper option than having a free DVR with your digital cable package.

  16. You people are pathetic. You spent more time reading this post, these comments, and complaining about these ads than you probably spend in the next year actually paying attention to them.

    You don’t pay Tivo enough to eliminate advertising.

    If this is “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” you are one pansy camel.

  17. Everyone CALL THEM!
    This is Not Right, This is a Service that we pay a premium for its not free and paid for by adds!!!
    Come on People Stop rolling over and letting them pull this crap!
    I have a Lawsuit against them right now, that they will be hit with in a week or so because I don’t know if you noticed they started recording TELEWORD Advertisements at 4am ? well my 10 year old happen to be sick and on the sofa with me when it tapped 3 min of a Penis Enlargement Commercial that my Son saw,
    and That is NOT COOL!
    I called them and got blown off so I documented it and will see them in court.
    CALL THEM ask to speak to a Supervisor and tell them this is Not Acceptable, Don’t just Vent on a Website that will not do Anything , DO SOMETHING so they stop with all this SPAM and Menu Advertising.
    PLEASE CALL Them

  18. Here here Tyson!

    All of you complaining about excess advertising can’t have your cake and eat it too. Not only will you see more ads on your Tivo, you will see more product placements in your favorite shows. You can’t bitch at Tivo for not having some new cutting edge feature on the one hand and expect them to deliver without paying the bills on the other. What you pay Tivo is not a “premium” otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about the demise of Tivo every 2-3 years. If you can’t handle tolerating the ad or clicking a button on your remote to make it disappear, go to your far inferior cable company DVR, and enjoy!

    Me, I will happily keep my Tivo and enjoy their steady stream of enhancements that always keep them on the leading edge of the DVR space. Theirs is the only CE device that I own that I love for its geek cred and that my wife can actually use. Ads during pauses (when most of the time you are in the bathroom or kitchen, admit it) are a minuscule price to pay.

  19. @zeo, your ‘challenge’ is weak and doesn’t prove anything. Well, actually it does – that there is simply not a competitor in the DVR market. These cable company boxes are -so- bad that we’ll stick with Tivo, even as they continue to not innovate and cram ads down our throat.

    Why don’t you revisit your ‘challenge’ when there is a legitimate alternative to Tivo. It’s like telling a disgruntled Mac user to switch to Linux.

    Personally, I’m SICK of Tivo. Love their interface, hate the company, it’s lack of innovation over the past 5 years, and the high monthly fee I pay. I can’t wait to drop ‘em when a serious contender (and as others have said – that my wife can use) hits the market.

  20. See this does not bug me. Come on, how many of you pause your Tivos and just sit there staring at a paused screen? If your like me you pause to go to the bathroom,get a snack, yell at the kids :)……. So I’m not in the room long to read any ad on the TV.

    Now if they start popping up during a show then I’ll be complaining right with you guys.

  21. I’ve yet to see an ad on my TIVO that I have been forced to sit through. Every ad is either my choice to activate or ignore. I have never been forced to sit through an ad before viewing my requested content. So what’s the big deal?

  22. CG, according to Bill Gorman nearly 1 million DVRs a month have been added to households over the last few months and hardly any of them were TiVo – after ten years, there’s less than 1.7 million total stand-alone TiVos in service. Most people are content with the cable and satellite DVR services. So TiVo needs to overachieve in the experience they provide and educate customers and potential customers alike as to the benefits of a TiVo investment. Most potential customers will not see additional advertising as an enhancement.

  23. I for one dont see the big deal about this at all….So they are making it easier to get to swivel search(something long overdue), and they are adding one add below that link? Who cares? If you dont like the ad dont click it. Are you guys already forgetting how awesome it is, that we have access to netflix’es entier library for free with an amazing interface on our tivos!? I’ll gladly put up with a minor ad I never need to click on if I dont want to, to keep getting the amazing things tivo has rolled out recently.(Youtube, netflix, amazon on demand, etc)

  24. I don’t see what the big deal is, with one stipulation. As long as the ad disappears with the time bar.

    If you’re pausing to look closer at something on the screen, chances are you wait for the time bar to time out or you hit clear to get rid of it. How does this change anything??

  25. Dave and others
    TiVo has had a hard time in the market, no doubt about it. However, is there any hard evidence that if TiVo dropped all ad based items from their DVR today that sales would have any significant impact?
    I contend there would be no impact. I think struggling to produce dual tuners and then HD capabale DVRs has had a significant impact. The hassle of cable cards and SDV are alos items I see in TCF that have been posted as directly impacting sales.

    Sure TiVo could look like great guys and get some positive PR for a bit if they drop ads but it would not even begin to compare to the potential for ad revenue and more importantly the revenue from sales and support of the interactive ad TECHNOLOGY that TiVo is creating.
    my money goes to what is the best DVR out there for my needs and I knew from first read of TOS that ads would be a part of the TiVo DVR.
    My challange is not a weak one of go ahead and cancle I dare you but simply stating the one and only thing that will get ads off the TiVo DVR and that is lost revenue that goes beyond the possible gain in revenue from ads. simple bottom line business decision for the TiVo subscriber and TiVo inc.

  26. Zeo, in a vacuum I agree this by itself is not terribly significant. In aggregate and as people pinch pennies, it’s another mental barrier to entry or continuation. Do I like this? Not particularly. Will I ebay my TiVos? Of course not.

  27. FINALLY, a benefit to being in Canada. I’ve not seen these on my TiVo. While I don’t like them, if I can delete them with the “clear” button as I can to get rid of the green bar (or with the down arrow as another poster suggested), I don’t care that much. I OFTEN pause to look at something – especially scantily clad hotties! Can’t have a banner ad blocking my view ;).

  28. 1. Tivo is a premium service that is supported by monthly charges. They should offer an opt-in for the ads.

    2. There are other options out there (cable co. dvr, sat dvr, myth tv, orb, etc). One may or may not have preference over one UI (user Interface) over nother but for the right price most people can adapt to one or another.

    3. Never hurts to call them to complain. They may not care but they will notice increased call volumes. My personal guess is that due to human nature most people will be to lazy to call and will be more content to sit on their rears and watch the ads like good little drones.

  29. Where does it end, if Tivo tests the waters and gets away
    with 2 advertisers do you think it will stop there….
    and you guys that think it’s OK for advertisement should get a discount on your service, …and then ask yourself How many BMW’s are yo going to buy. Tivo is not BMW’s target audience….I on the other hand would be willing to pay extra for not seeing any of the crap advertisement at all……….

  30. (1) The swivel-search thing kinda bugs me. I don’t use swivel-search and every time I pause a program I have to press Down to hide it. Annoying. However…

    (2) Ads don’t bother me at all. By now most people should have learned to tune ads out whether they are on billboards, web sites, TV, or whatever.

    Bottom line, this “outrage” always happens when TiVo does something ad-related, but — as usual — this is much ado about nothing.

  31. @Ivan Y
    Shakespeare FTW!
    But seriously, this doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. I mean, it seems a little bit of a copout for TiVo, especially for people with Product Lifetime service (like me), but I’ll put up with whatever they have to do to stay afloat in today’s economy.

  32. Incidentally, Tivo made a recent MSNBC list of gadgets that make you look like a jerk.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28039226?pg=4#Tech_JerkGadgets

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