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Tivo, one year later

It’s been a year since we started using Tivo and I wouldn’t want to watch TV without it. It’s more than the time-shifting of hour favorite shows (but that part is pretty good), it’s being able to keep a library of shows for the kids to watch when they want to. It’s having two Tivo’s and being able to transfer shows from one box to the other in real time. It’s being able to show music and pictures from our PC’s to the TVs. It’s being able to schedule a show to be recorded remotely. It means never having to touch a VHS tape ever again.

I do wonder what the long term affect will be on advertisers. Like it or not, commercials pay for most of the TV that we watch. And I skip right over 95% of them. If I see something that catches my eye, I’ll drop out of warp speed fast forwarding and watch the commercial. But that is the exception to the norm. The advertisers no longer have a captive audience for their commercials and that breaks the business model that has been place for last 50 years or so.

You can’t blame Tivo for this, I was ignoring 95% of the commercials long before Tivo popped out of it’s shell. Except now you can’t ignore the fact the commercials are not being watched. How is Proctor & Gamble going to get your attention now?

I think you are going to see more and more in-show product placement. “24” is good example of that. They use product placement to the point of parody. Last season featured various Cisco products as a guest stars. This season, it’s Jack Baurer’s PDA. It’s a phone that gets reception everywhere, a camera, it can display the locations of terrorists in real time, and can blow them up (in selected service areas only). I wonder how much Sprint and/or Palm paid for a device that gets more air time than most of the cast.

But there’s some big problems with product placements. Unless you go all skywalker over the video, those placements are permanent. When you syndicate a show, the stations that re-broadcast the show are provind free air time for the advertisers with the product placement. I don’t see that as a long term solution.

I think you are going to see some form of collaboration between the advertisers and the DVR vendors. Tivo already has hooks in some commercials provide an option for the user to download targetted advertising. With the Tivo hardware, there can be two-way communication between the content and the viewer. That’s where the future of TV will be heading.