TiVo’s Pause Menu Spam Hits S3/HD Units

Dave Zatz —  April 5, 2009 — 35 Comments

pausemenu

TiVo’s newest form of advertising, which debuted a few months back on Series 2 units, has now begun to encroach on the Series 3/TiVoHD platform. As TiVo proclaimed in December:

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

Software version 11.0c, which seems to consist solely of this “feature,” is currently being deployed to high-def TiVo boxes. I haven’t yet received an “upgrade,” but the initial community response has been mixed.

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35 responses to TiVo’s Pause Menu Spam Hits S3/HD Units

  1. Commercial skipping was too good to last. Seems like the honeymoon is over. Once they enable the broadcast flag, it’s game over. Sad.

  2. You have to pay a really expensive monthly fee for the service *AND* look at commercials – WTF?

    Sounds like a job for User Labor Markup Language (ULML)

    “…Many web services today base their business models on capitalizing on this product, the creative capacity of their users, through sophisticated advertising networks while positioning the user as both the producer and the consumer of content. The service cycle is familiar: service provider facilitates social use, user produces content, content generates traffic, traffic attracts advertising revenue for the service.

    Service providers may understand, calculate, and leverage user contribution to determine business plans and solicit advertisers, its value often remains opaque to the users.

    With ULML, it is implied that all stake holders (service provider, user, advertiser) are compensated for their engagement in order for the service to sustain itself. Since every activity on the web is measurable, the compensations are determined in a pragmatic way through analytics. Usage statistics determine advertising value of the service.”

    userlabor.org

  3. dave humphries April 5, 2009 at 10:33 am

    i’ve been spending a lot of time with some friends who have a time warner hd dvr, and as far as i’m concerned tivo could cover the entire pause screen with ads and i’d still pay for it.

    it does, however, make me feel like we are one step closer to “ow, my balls” on the violence channel being the number one show in the country.

  4. “..[it] make me feel like we are one step closer to “ow, my balls” on the violence channel being the number one show in the country.”

    rofl! I love that movie. Mike Judge is a great writer.

    Search YouTube by “most popular”…we’re already there.

  5. It doesn’t bother me at all. It does not surprise me that there has been some negative response, but don’t assume that most people hate it just because there’s been very little positive response – folks who don’t mind it are unlikely to take the time to say so.

  6. So far Direct Tv has been smart enough to not charge folks for data/box and then add snipe then too. I find this sort of short sighted double dipping proposition ridiculous and would makes me glad I have not tried to go back to tivo. Tivo has clearly forgotten who the real customers are.

  7. I have a pair of lifetime subs, so I’m not paying anything monthly, and couldn’t care less about what shows up when I pause the screen. Does this materially affect somebody’s life?

    Ten minutes with a cable co DVR is enough to cause me physical pain. I can live with ads when I pause.

  8. Eventually they’ll piss me off to the point that I just pirate all my TV commercial free.

    Why can there not be a single un-advertisement-covered space in the world? Why does every damn thing need a pop up, over or under ad on it?

    Maybe it’s me overreacting, but I vow to never, ever buy anything that is advertised in the TiVo menu system. I PAY MONEY FOR THIS SERVICE. If my fee is not enough, then charge me more but stop spamming me.

  9. I have been with Tivo since the start, I have beta tested and sent many suggestions in. And I must say they are responsive and good to work with… much better then many other consumer orgs.

    Concerning seeing some block of text on my screen while I’m jumping forward, I don’t care. I don’t want to loose this service to the way of banckruptcy because they had NO Revenue! If this pays the bills they it rip !

  10. “Concerning seeing some block of text on my screen while I’m jumping forward, I don’t care. I don’t want to loose this service to the way of banckruptcy because they had NO Revenue! If this pays the bills they it rip !”

    Agree absolutely. For us, the TiVo 30-sec skip button is the ONLY thing between our watching SOME TV and watching NO TV (spending the time reading a book). So we must push the skip button and the advertisers lose nothing on us, either way.

  11. As usual with any ad-related developments at TiVo, this is much ado about nothing. I have S2 unit and I don’t recall seeing any FFW/skip/pause ads, so even if that happened, it wasn’t memorable enough.

    Matter of fact, I’d rather see SOMETHING on a pause screen other than somewhat annoying “More blah-blah..” text that I have no use for anyway.

  12. hmm, I detect a bit of bias in the reporting of this pause ad. Some do not like it, some do not mind it. To say however that initial reaction has not been positive is just not accurate of the thread linked to

  13. Perhaps some bias, as I’m not in favor of advertising overlaid on top of my paid television content. I’ve updated the language above to more accurately reflect the mixed response on the TCF.

  14. What do you do when you pause… oh that’s right you go do something else and not look at the tv… this is a non issue and if tivo can increase their revenues by doing this more power to them… they must stave off bankruptcy and fight the good fight… no matter what the ad it’s still way better then any cable co dvr

  15. I agree with ward_ja… anything TiVo has to do to stay in business is OK with me!
    I have a lifetimed TiVo HD box, so it’s all free from now on…

  16. Steve, but it also means you have no leverage. You can’t “cancel” service when TiVo does something boneheaded. ;) I guess I’m in the same boat – my main Series3 is also Lifetimed. So I’m stuck with whatever they throw at me. The sooner Amazon VOD in HD gets here, the better I’ll feel.

  17. I’m concerned. I’m a very happy Tivo customer. However, in my experience, when companies stop trying to deliver more value to their customers, and instead spend their time working on ways to extract more cash from them without providing any additional value, things start going to downhill.

    I haven’t seen any new features that I care about in quite some time out of Tivo. They are lucky their competition is still so anemic.

  18. Ehh, I don’t care. I don’t have to select it. Haven’t seen any advertising yet, usually a swivel search for the program I’m pausing.

  19. “What do you do when you pause… oh that’s right you go do something else and not look at the tv… this is a non issue”

    I usually pause because I want to look at something in detail while the unit is paused. This ads an extra frustrating step to see what I paused the unit to see.

    That said, it doesn’t bother me much. And, so far, it hasn’t reached Canada on either my S2 or S3. The only advantage to being a Canadian user that I’ve ever experienced with TiVo! :)

    … Dale

  20. Shewee…thank heavens Dale showed up, we almost had a decent sized thread without hearing about how bad it is in Canada. That was close!

  21. Oh boo hoo, Frank. Is it the exclusive right of Americans to bitch and moan about TiVo?

  22. I’d be OK with this if it meant all of my favorite shows weren’t being canceled because I skipped commercials (as the TV execs complain).

    Latest victim is Sarah Connors Chronicles: Heavy Hulu and DVR usage but the TV execs don’t care; they care only about the captive commercial watching audience. Dollhouse will likely be next for the same reason.

    If this was an alternate revenue stream to regular commercials compensating the content producers, groovy, but it’s not. Alas, the ad money just goes back to Tivo for additional revenue for them and does nothing to ensure my favorite content remains available. I am paying plenty for Tivo service already; it is the content producers that need the additional revenue so that they stop fearing the DVR audience and killing great shows.

  23. The value prop of a DVR is the ability to watch tv at the speed that I want to. As long as TiVo does not force me to spend my time watching commercial. I do not care about banners when my TV is paused or ads in the delete menu. I care about how my time is used. This has always been what TiVo has offered me.

    BTW, TiVo has never sold or Marketed the DVR as a way to get away from Commercials.

  24. No Peter, but apparently Canadians are constantly disappointed and frustrated with their country.

    Regardless of the topic, it seems some Canadian -has- to show up (not just here, but numerous tech blogs) and whine that “Canada doesn’t have this” or “Canada doesn’t have that” and how lucky we should consider ourselves in the USA.

    So boohoo is right. I’m sick of hearing how Canadians feel shortchanged. As I’ve said before – “MOVE”.

  25. First off, I can’t stand the built in ad’s at the bottom of Comcast’s program guide. Yet now on a paid, premium DVR service, Tivo is trying simular gestapo tatics.

    Sorry, I lost respect for Tivo. Now if only Moxi would guarantee VOD access. Hmm….

  26. cypherstream, I wouldn’t be surprised if they announced a deal with someone like CinemaNow. EchoStar is an investor in CinemaNow and is used for DISH Internet VOD. We also saw the Moxi UI on Echo/Sling’s tru2way DVR. Maybe I’m not connecting the dots in the right way, but it wouldn’t surprise me…

  27. Thanks Dave.
    Certainly no one dashes home to see the newest Advertsing feature :) So I agree this is not a sought after update. Still advertising is kind of the name of the game for broadcast media and something to have to deal with. I still see TiVo as looking for ways to keep it from getting really in the way though while they work on the advertisers persepctive of making sure end users see it and take note of it.

    Maybe we need to nationalize broadcast media. :D

  28. Jon, Where did you hear that Sarah Connors Chronicles was being canceled??

  29. This kills me! I pay a service fee and if that isn’t enough, charge me more or let me go! The Tivo service that I signed up with had no ads, that is how I justified paying for it over an inferior Comcast or Dish DVR. If they keep throwing extra “features” like this at users, they will go the same way that AOL did when it covered its paid software with ads. If this keeps up I will go back to my supped up mac mini with eyeTV and an HDMI output.

  30. Can you clear the screen if paused on a pause ad? Right now if I hit clear the scrb bar goes away and I get a freeze frame. Is that still how it works?

  31. @ JimK — that’s how it should work even with gold-star items (i.e. ads). Even on the screenshot above, it shows you can press Down to hide the overlay.

  32. I know this thread is a bit old, but does anyone know if you can clear the on screen display? Sometimes people pause a video to actually examine something on screen. I don’t need some ad blocking what I;m trying to see.

  33. On the S2 you can by moving one frame forward or back like you do to remove the progress bar.

  34. @Ryan: To hide the pop-up item, press Down (need to do only first time you pause). To hide everything, including the scrub bar, press Clear button. It works on S2 and it should work on other models too, AFAIK.

  35. I hate the advertising. It’s so ironic. I got a Tivo so I could skip the commercials in recorded programs. I paid a lot of money for the Fricking Tivo box and the service. Now, what do I get? Fricking commercials from Tivo whenever I pause.

    DirecTV just began delivering HD locals in my area. I have a direcTV HD dVR as well. I will shortly cancel my Tivo service unless the “features” go away. Tivo, you lost your values and screwed me as well.

    If Tivo had this when I plunked down my $700+ for my Series 3 I would not have bought it. I will never buy another Tivo product again.

    Yes, it does piss me off.

    Tom

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