Archives For Advertising

TiVo’s previously provided their advertisers and partners the ability to sell products to us DVR subscribers, but come this fall instead of mailing an invoice, linking an Amazon account, or sending the Dominos guy, they’ll now be able to complete transactions via PayPal:

TiVo Inc. and PayPal announced they have teamed up to provide TiVo users with the ability to purchase products featured in interactive advertisements on the TiVo user interface through PayPal, the faster, safer way to pay. This integration creates a new opportunity for advertisers and brands to connect with TiVo users and to turn their 30-second spots and interactive TiVo ad placements into actionable purchasing opportunities through a one-time account link.

Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come. While The Next Web touts this as “frictionless” TV shopping via remote, I’d say PayPal is anything but. More pointedly, I’m not convinced there’s a significant audience that will purchase products or services in this manner… and don’t imagine TiVo’s prior partner campaigns of this nature fared well. But, hey, maybe I’m wrong. And advertising will become so successful that they’ll follow in Amazon’s Kindle footsteps by offering a TiVo Premiere With Special Offers that does away with recurring service fees. It’s worth a shot!

tivo-developer-channel

As TiVo ramps up their Platform Sofware Development Kit (SDK), it appears they’ve settled on a logo and name. As described by TiVo Art Director Trevor Dubbert:

This logo mark for the TiVo Developer Channel is a branding project to promote the creation of third party software apps.

The TiVo Premiere didn’t actually live up to its original “One Box” billing, but the addition of features like Xfinity On Demand and a solid stable of updated apps could shift the balance. And Megazone reports TiVo’s new SDK program is on track to launch “this fall” – driven by a full time employee.

As to the logo itself, Trevor says:

In discussions with TiVo’s Product Manager, we came up with the idea of representing the brand name with binary code. The logo’s silhouette shape helps it to be recognizable as TiVo. With the lines of code it gives a nod to software developers who understand how to read binary.

While some may find the binary code representation of “TiVo” a tired play, investor Sam Biller (who dug up this story!) thinks it looks pretty good and I have to say that branding the program is a positive development, boding well for TiVo and their customers.

Less than two weeks after DISH Network announced their clever and automated, albeit limited, commercial skip functionality Fox, NBC, and CBS have filed suit for copyright infringement and breach of contract:

[Fox] were given no choice but to file suit against one of our largest distributors, DISH Network, because of their surprising move to market a product with the clear goal of violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem. Their wrongheaded decision requires us to take swift action in order to aggressively defend the future of free, over-the-air television.

NBC has filed suit against this unlawful service in order to keep over-the-air broadcast television a strong competitor. Advertising generates the revenue that makes it possible for local broadcast stations and national broadcast networks to pay for the creation of the news, sports and entertainment programming that are the hallmark of American broadcasting. Dish simply does not have the authority to tamper with the ads from broadcast replays on a wholesale basis for its own economic and commercial advantage.

This service takes existing network content and modifies it in a manner that is unauthorized and illegal. [CBS] believe this is a clear violation of copyright law and we intend to stop it.

Of course, no one should be surprised by this highly likely development. What remains unknown is if DISH will be forced to remove the feature from their flagship whole-home Hopper DVR or if they might work out some sort of On Demand-esque licensing.

Coincidentally, DISH & Roku just partnered… and Roku’s CEO Anthony Wood happened to found ReplayTV — who was similarly attacked by the broadcasters about a decade ago for implementing commercial skip. So perhaps he had some advice for DISH CEO Joe Clayton as they prepared their own preemptive legal strike today against ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC:

DISH today filed suit against ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in federal court for a declaratory judgment on questions that have arisen related to the pay-TV provider’s May 10 introduction of a user-enabled commercial skipping technology called AutoHop. DISH’s monthly subscriber fees include significant “retransmission fees” that DISH pays to the major networks. Although the broadcasters have made much of their content available for free using sites such as Hulu, they have continued to demand substantial increases in their retransmission fees. In addition to increasing media reports of planned legal action against DISH, three of the networks — CBS, Fox and NBC – have rejected ads for DISH’s Hopper Whole-Home DVR, the device that features the AutoHop function.

As fallout over DISH Network’s new Auto Hop commercial skip feature expands, TiVo has injected themselves into the conversation. From the New York Times:

TiVo has taken the same approach, promoting ways to serve ads to viewers even as they’re fast-forwarding through them. “We’ve gone from being a black hat to being more of a white hat,” said Tom Rogers [...] TiVo owners can find ways to hack the hardware and create an auto-skip feature, but the company has never promoted it, preferring instead to be in business with the broadcasters.

Never mind the gross mischaracterization of TiVo’s quite manual 30 second skip, which is more easter egg than “hardware” hack, and let’s focus instead on TiVo’s increased chumminess with the broadcasters, advertisers, and cable industry… who are often one and the same. While they may find TiVo more “white hat” these days, us subscribers might actually see it in reverse. Something I discussed with The Associated Press back 2009:

He said he’s been wondering, “Who are TiVo’s customers?” People like him, or advertisers? “They’re getting paid on both ends.”

All things considered, I’d say TiVo has been relatively successful walking that fine line as they’ve the brokered deals (and defended patents) needed to survive without overly polluting our end-user experience. But I hope they continue to remember us little people. As the best way to skip commercials doesn’t involve cable television or DVRs. Rather, it remains renting DVDs and Blu-ray discs from Netflix.

dish-auto-hop

DISH Network continues to tempt fate (and the studio empire) given the introduction of automatic commercial skipping via their Hopper DVR and Joey extenders. If you recall, this new and highly regarded whole home solution features “Primetime Anytime” which records local prime time television programming (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) and retains this content 8 days. Those very same recordings, or perhaps a subset given the fine print, will now display the Hopper pink kangaroo icon a few hours after broadcast, indicating “Auto Hop” commercial skip is available.

DISH says Auto Hop is something we “consumers have been waiting for since the dawn of television.” Which isn’t entirely accurate… As we’ve only been waiting since Replay TV excised similar functionality (available on any channel/recording) under legal studio pressure. Will history repeat itself? Or, perhaps, DISH’s technical implementation and limited scope insulates them in some way. Regardless, it’s interesting to compare and contrast their customer-centric approach to the conflicted Comcast that just filed a patent application to inject onscreen advertising overlays when customers fast forward by commercials.