Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Media Television Technology

TiVo Selling Data on Users' Watching Habits 244

Posted by Zonk
from the that-little-antenna-guy-is-watching-you dept.
Gyppo writes "The San Francisco Chronicle reports that TiVo is collecting and selling data on what parts of broadcasts people are rewinding for review and what commercials they are skipping. The data collection is part of a service the company provides to advertisers and television networks, collecting anonymous data on their users' commercial-watching habits. The data they provide is a random subset of their overall userbase, detailing which commercials are skipped and which are actually watched. The article mentions the possibility for privacy abuse, but with this application of technology Tivo is not providing access to what any one individual user watches via the service."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

TiVo Selling Data on Users' Watching Habits

Comments Filter:
  • in CCCP (Score:4, Funny)

    by eneville (745111) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:24PM (#17882512) Homepage
    in soviet russia, TiVo watches you!!
    • Re:in CCCP (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mopslik (688435) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:42PM (#17882664)
      Only on /. would parent be modded "insightful" instead of "funny".
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Are you suggesting that an "In Soviet Russia" joke would be considered funny outside of slashdot?
    • Typo (Score:2, Troll)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      Typo: 'In Soviet America...' There, fixed for you.
  • Not surprising. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cyraan (840132) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:27PM (#17882532)
    I always assumed they did this, am I the only one?
    • Re:Not surprising. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Detritus (11846) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:31PM (#17882592) Homepage
      I thought it was part of their business strategy from the very beginning.

      I don't see a problem, as long as they don't release any individually identifiable data.

      • by AudioEfex (637163) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:02PM (#17883494)

        I thought it was part of their business strategy from the very beginning. I don't see a problem, as long as they don't release any individually identifiable data.

        I've been a TiVo user for years, and I agree - we've always known about this, and I could give a crap.

        To be honest, as long as it doesn't have my credit card number and address, I could care less even if it wasn't aggregated and did contain my name, for instance.

        Oh, the horror...my big secret would be revealed : I have a season pass for "That's So Raven". I may get denied jobs, housing, or a life mate if anyone ever found out. ;)

        I know some people get all uppity over "principle" and "slippery slopes", but really - what in hell is anyone watching on TV, especially in the U.S., that anyone would seriously object to knowing about. No, I don't want my viewing habits published on the web, but on the other hand - what the hell do I really care if they were. The world be damned - yes, I used the instant replay button several times on "Dirt" last week when Grant Shaud from Melrose Place was getting blown by that guy so I could get a good look at his rockin' ass. I have no shame!

        If someone doesn't like me because I watch those zany adventures of Raven and her wacky friends, or that I used the instant replay button to get a look at a middle-aged guys ass on basic cable, then they aren't cool enough for me to care about anyway. ;)

        In all seriousness, though - I just assume that every bit of data that enters or exits my house is public knowledge. That's why I don't say things on the Internet I wouldn't take out an ad and say in a Newspaper for the world to see - I'm not paranoid and actually think anyone is actively looking, but I just find it good policy. It lets me live my life rather worry-free that something will ever "come back to haunt me".

        AE

        • Re:Not surprising. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Babbster (107076) <aaronbabb.gmail@com> on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:23PM (#17883628) Homepage
          The counter-argument to that (not one I subscribe to, just advocating the devil) is that you're censoring yourself because people are not, or may not be, respecting your privacy. For example, if you know that your next-door neighbors love spy gadgets - especially their parabolic microphone - then you may not say what you really think of them on your own property, for fear that they'll hear and go Bakersfield Chimp on you.

          Personally, I'm in favor of Tivo going this route for the simple fact that it's extremely unlikely I'll ever be hooked up to Nielsen's TV rating service and I'd like for TV networks to base their decisions on the largest sample set possible. For example, maybe a huge portion of people with Tivos watch Battlestar Galactica but, in a statistical fluke, almost nobody who has a Nielsen hookup does. In that situation, if Tivo doesn't sell their data to NBC/Universal, maybe BSG gets cancelled when as few as 100,000 more viewers - represented by the addition of Tivo's data - could have saved the show.
  • Old news? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by norminator (784674) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:28PM (#17882546)
    Didn't we know this back when the whole Janet Jackson/Super Bowl thing happened? Maybe this is running today in honor of the anniversary of that.

    Thank goodness for my MythTV box.
  • by KillerDeathRobot (818062) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:28PM (#17882548) Homepage
    I'm inclined to think that maybe this is a good thing. If no individual privacy is being trampled, then it's good for TiVo to have another revenue stream and a way to keep networks and advertisers happy, since generally the content providers have been working pretty hard to fight against DVR.
  • by VidEdit (703021) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:29PM (#17882560)
    In the article, refers to what services its "clients" want--but Tivo isn't talking about all the people who forked over cash for Tivos and pay an over inflated monthly subscription. No, the people Tivo considers its clients are the media companies it sells viewership data to.

    It would be nice if Tivo would think of its loyal customers as clients rather than a captive audience to sell data about and to force feed advertisements to. I think it is a legitimate point to think that Tivo might wish to consider putting its retail customers first, since without them they are nothing. The attempts to monitize their customers as if they are an asset owned by Tivo seems like a good way to alienate retail customers and to potentially hurt Tivo sales.
    • by kebes (861706) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:47PM (#17882702) Journal
      Well said.

      What bothers me about TiVo is that they are in a conflict-of-interest situation. They have people buying TiVos (and subscriptions) on the one hand, and they have advertisers and media companies on the other. Let's face it: the needs and wants of the two groups are not usually aligned. At some point, they may decide that the needs of the media companies are more profitable than the needs of the users. (I would argue that this monitoring move is one example.) I would prefer not to sign up with companies that undertaken these conflict-of-interest scenarios.

      Obviously it's up to each consumer to decide whether the service TiVo is offering is worth it. Suffice it to say, I'm not convinced.
      • But you have to admit that when one of those creepy pharmaceutical ads comes on, this will make it so much more satisfying to skip, now that you know you're relaying a "thumbs down" back to the pharmaceutical company through your Tivo.

        If these commercials I'm seeing are reflective of the viewing habits of Tivo owners then it's clear you people aren't properly using the features of your Tivos.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Babbster (107076)

        What bothers me about TiVo is that they are in a conflict-of-interest situation. They have people buying TiVos (and subscriptions) on the one hand, and they have advertisers and media companies on the other. Let's face it: the needs and wants of the two groups are not usually aligned.

        Why aren't they? ABC, NBC, TNT, etc. need to know which of their shows are being watched, and I want them to know what I'm watching so that they'll keep showing my programs. Those needs seem to line up nicely. Even selling

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Benedick (737361)
        Every media company in the world has this same conflict. Newspapers, magazines, TV networks, local stations, radio; all of them sell their wares to you and, essentially, sell you to their advertisers. Yes, I suppose that's a bit of a conflict of interest but not much.

        Think about it this way: the advertisers want you to see the ads. That's what they are paying for: your attentions. That makes it in the best interest of the media company to provide news, entertainment, or what have you that people like.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      I think it is a legitimate point to think that Tivo might wish to consider putting its retail customers first, since without them they are nothing.

      How would their actions be different depending on which customer they put first? Selling that data does not affect the viewers at all.

      The attempts to monitize their customers as if they are an asset owned by Tivo seems like a good way to alienate retail customers and to potentially hurt Tivo sales.

      The more money TiVo makes from other sources, the lower

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mex (191941)
      How many times does it have to be repeated?

      YOU are the product. Your eyeballs are sold to the highest bidder.

      The media companies, who pay huge amounts of money, ARE the clients.
    • by JacksBrokenCode (921041) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @05:02PM (#17883192)

      Tivo isn't talking about all the people who forked over cash for Tivos and pay an over inflated monthly subscription.

      If you chose to go with MythTV or Freevo instead of TiVo, your hardware cost will probably be much higher than an off-the-shelf TiVo unit. So yes, TiVo customers have "forked over cash" but they probably forked over less cash than they would have for an alternative system.

      As for the subscription price being "over inflated": $13 per month is just under $.45 per day. Is 2 quarters a day really an over-inflated price for a service that automates recording my favorite shows and allows me to fast-forward commercials that I don't want to watch? (Usage data will reveal that I tend to watch the Geico "cavemen" commercials.) Yes, that's infinite magnitudes more expensive than a free service like XMLTV but realistically it's not a horribly expensive amount to pay. If you can't spare $.45/day then you probably can't afford a PVR to begin with.

      Yes, I'm a TiVo user and I'm quite content with the service and the price. At the end of the day I don't care if they look at my usage habits because I hope that the companies will finally realize which ads suck-ass. If the big-brother syndrome gets to the point where someday a company won't hire me because The Great Database says I watched too much Aqua Teen and not enough CSPAN... I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

      • Media companies and Tivo owners do not have the same interests. If Tivo starts catering to media interests it is not likely to be a "win, win" situation: Tivo owners want to skip ads. Media companies want you to watch them. These two interests are opposite.

        "for the subscription price being "over inflated": $13 per month is just under $.45 per day."

        Um, I can get a month of full internet access for that. Or a month of basic cable. Does the database Tivo supplies cost anything near $13 per subscriber/mo? How a
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Media companies and Tivo owners do not have the same interests.

          Agreed, but finding equilibrium is important because if the equation becomes too lopsided the companies disappear (less content) or the viewers disappear (less marketable population). Neither situation is a truly good thing.

          Um, I can get a month of full internet access for that. Or a month of basic cable. Does the database Tivo supplies cost anything near $13 per subscriber/mo? How about a few pennies per subscriber. Seeing as how I can look

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Um, I can get a month of full internet access for that. Or a month of basic cable.

          The cheapest non-dial-up I can get is $40 a month. "Basic" cable is 15 channels. That's less than some markets get over the air. The next level up is $60 a month. So, for basic non-dial-up Internet and the cheapest cable choice that gives me 16 channels, I'm paying over $100. So, for that level of cost for the "basics," why do you think $13 is obscene?
      • by Manchot (847225)
        From a purely fiscal standpoint, it makes sense for you to spend that 45 cents every day. Let's assume a worst-case scenario, in which you make the old federal minimum wage, $5.15 an hour. To make up for 45 cents of your time, you'd have to skip 5.24 minutes of commercials. As a rule of thumb, about a quarter of what we watch is commercial. Therefore, if you watch more than 21 minutes of television a day, it would make sense to pay the Tivo fee.
        • by Ecks (52930)
          1/3 of the content of an average commercial television show is commercials. If I start watching a one hour program that runs from 10:00PM to 11:00PM on TiVo and I don't want to see any commercials I have to wait until 10:20 before I start watching. That way as I forward through the last block of commercials at about 10:55 I catch up and am watching the last part of the program in real time.

          -- Ecks
    • In other news, it has been found that bus companies let advertisers know how many people travel on busses! Holy crap! The privacy implications, look at the evil bus companies giving away personal aggregate data!
    • Both the subscribers and the buyers of this data are paying Tivo customers. Tivo is treating both groups of customers just fine.

      That they only mention one kind of customers when talking about that part of the business is not part of an evil plot. It's just how normal conversations work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cultrhetor (961872)

      I hate to be the word police. I really do, but I've seen this word "monitize," (correctly spelled "monetize") creeping into a number of posts. It does not mean what you think it means. To "Monetize" something is to give it legal value as currency. The word you're thinking of is "commodify," or to turn into a commodity (an item for sale).

      That is all. Thank you.

  • Bad Data (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jethro (14165) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:29PM (#17882564) Homepage
    I don't know if this is the same with standalone TiVos, but my DirecTV TiVo box is always on, and always 'recording' two channels. Which means there's pretty much 24 hours a day of stuff I'm watching without skipping anything, plus stuff I am watching and skipping.

    Now, they could be ignoring Live TV, but... then they're ignoring when people watch live TV, which I think would be fairly important to advertisers.

    Personally I don't care if TiVo (or DirecTV) collect viewing habits, as long as they remain anonymous. I just don't think it's accurate at all.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:29PM (#17882566)
    This isn't news. Sure feel free to get up in arms about marketing companies knowing what an anonymous hashed identity is watching.

    Please note, that the supermarkets do exactly the same thing. Why do you think loyalty cards exist?

     
    • by zakezuke (229119)
      Please note, that the supermarkets do exactly the same thing. Why do you think loyalty cards exist?

      So you can use your grandmother's phone number and make someone crunching the data wonder how an 83 year old woman bought apple juice in Walla Walla Washington and a bag of potato chips in Rauly North Carolina within 5min of eachother.

    • "Please note, that the supermarkets do exactly the same thing. Why do you think loyalty cards exist?" They can try, but I can get an anonymous loyalty card. Just be careful what name you put on it because the checkers always try and thank you by name. You really don't want to choose a bad name and hear, "Thank you Mr. Dumbsh*t" every time you use your discount card... Try getting an anonymous account with your Tivo subscription. It would be a lot harder. Besides Tivo is even worse in one sense, it monitor
    • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:24PM (#17882976) Homepage
      From the looks of it, it's even more innocuous than that. It's not an anonymous hashed identity, it's aggregate statistics. Heck, I run aggregate statistics on my website! And if they were actually worth money, I'd probably sell them too.
    • by timeOday (582209)

      Sure feel free to get up in arms about marketing companies knowing what an anonymous hashed identity is watching.

      That's one solution. I prefer simply to use my own recording and playback equipment, thankyouverymuch.

      Please note, that the supermarkets do exactly the same thing. Why do you think loyalty cards exist?

      What's your point? My guess almost all the people who would resent TiVo doing this also resent "loyalty cards."

      These days when somebody's charged of a crime these days you often hear "Mr. Jone

    • Sure feel free to get up in arms about marketing companies knowing what an anonymous hashed identity is watching.

      I get up in arms because TiVo expects me to PAY for the privilege of giving them commercially valuable information. "Oh, but they give you program listings!" Yeah, so does Zap2It, but they only ask for a couple of brief survey questions every few months and otherwise get no information from me. What's TiVo's problem with that?

      Please note, that the supermarkets do exactly the same thing.
    • by HUADPE (903765)
      Supermarket loyalty cards give me a discount TiVo does not. If they had "save $2 per month by allowing us to sell your viewing habits" the example would be comparable. As it is, the two are very different. The TiVo data is aggregate, loyalty cards aren't. TiVo offers no discount, loyalty cards do.
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:30PM (#17882572) Journal

    I think an end result (and to some an unexpected result) is TiVo can make life better for everyone with this "service". I've always been a huge fan of TiVo, since they arrived on the scene, so forgive some obvious bias.

    How can they make it better? Tivo can supply information to providers of content, and advertisers more valuable than any surveys or polls. Tivo can give real time info (rolled up) of what and how viewers watch their show (and ads). An end result would (potentially) be eventual extinction of really annoying and bad ads... by dint of the fact noone watches them when given an opportunity to skip.

    The same goes for content... if noone records a show, or watches it on Tivo buffer, its well earned demise can be accelerated.

    Tivo demonstrated just how granular their data are by their disclosure that the Janet Jackson "clip" was the most replayed segment of the Super Bowl... wth? they actually know down to a few seconds of snippets.

    Yeah, there may be privacy issues there... but there are privacy issues everywhere, even when there were (are there still?) Nielsen families. My gut tells me there isn't too much interesting in viewers habits other than what they're watching and how much of they're watching. The game is about making money and selling product.

    Tivo finally gives the providers feedback that I'd wished for years ago... immediate, and absolute.

    • by VidEdit (703021)
      "An end result would (potentially) be eventual extinction of really annoying and bad ads.."

      This presumes a simplistic senario: that we skip bad ads and watch quality ads. This false dichotomy is a misunderstanding of the options that advertisers and media companies may choose to use. The research data could result in more static and boring ads that still can be read while in fast forward mode or more ads superimposed over the regular programing the way that shows are now obnoxiously promoed. You might also
    • by zurmikopa (460568)
      "The same goes for content... if noone records a show, or watches it on Tivo buffer, its well earned demise can be accelerated."

      I wonder if networks would actually look at the popularity of the show, itself, or if they would look at how often the ads associated with that show were watched when determining if they should keep it around.

      If it were the latter, then not only would the show have to be good, but the ads associated with the show would have to be good for it to survive.

    • Explicitly (as in, not in the small print on a piece of paper hidden in some packing material) agree to have their data shared, and further, they're paid for it.
    • by zakezuke (229119)
      How can they make it better? Tivo can supply information to providers of content, and advertisers more valuable than any surveys or polls. Tivo can give real time info (rolled up) of what and how viewers watch their show (and ads). An end result would (potentially) be eventual extinction of really annoying and bad ads... by dint of the fact noone watches them when given an opportunity to skip.

      Or...

      They make a connection between what shows people skip ads for, and stop buying ad time on them. The shows you
  • Old news (Score:2, Interesting)

    by milesy20 (94995)
    TiVo has long since confirmed this was a practice since delivering that Janet Jackson's infamous Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" was the most replayed event in TiVo history.
  • Danger of abuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kebes (861706) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:30PM (#17882578) Journal
    From TFA:

    "I promise with my hand on a Bible that your data is not being archived and sold," said Todd Juenger, TiVo's vice president and general manager of audience research and measurement.
    Well that's a very nice promise, but what it misses is that the danger of abuse is a very good reason to avoid something, even if you know no abuse of the system is occuring at present. While this VP can make promises right now, he cannot guarantee that at no point in the future will these techniques be used against customers. TiVo might change their policies, or get bought-out by someone else. Moreover, by building the infrastructure to monitor their customers like this, they are creating an avenue for attack.

    This attack may come from someone who cracks the system and uses it to spy on others, or the attack may come from law-suits which (for whatever reason I can't currently imagine) demand that TiVo turn over records of what a particular person was watching. Or maybe this attack will never come.

    I would argue that avoiding these kinds of systems is not paranoid... moreover I would argue that avoiding them is necessary. Do not let yet another system be co-opted to monitor you! Even if it is 'for a good cause' (and I'm not convinced that advertising is 'a good cause') it can eventually be used against you.

    In short, I'm just going to add this to the list of reasons I prefer MythTV. My device, my control, my privacy.
    • by Compholio (770966)

      This attack may come from someone who cracks the system and uses it to spy on others, or the attack may come from law-suits which (for whatever reason I can't currently imagine) demand that TiVo turn over records of what a particular person was watching. Or maybe this attack will never come.

      You mean like the government deciding that some things are inappropriate to watch and they want a record of what you've been watching? They do the same thing already with books if they think you're a "suspicious" perso

    • I'm just going to add this to the list of reasons I prefer MythTV. My device, my control, my privacy.

      And a automatic commercial-skip function that works remarkably well. ;-)
  • so even if someone doesnt have TiVO and they dont flip the channel on commercials how do they still know that people are REALLY watching? for all they know people could be out of the room, talking on the phone, taking a dump or reading the paper or book while putting the commercials on mute.

    about people that have TiVO, why is TiVO allowing the advertisers to know when people do this anyway? how much money does it take to buy TiVO and its initial rules of total privacy by the viewer?
  • FTA:

    TiVo's potential to monitor (and embarrass) millions of people was made clear in 2004 after Janet Jackson's right breast made a surprise appearance during the Super Bowl halftime show.

    It shouldn't come as any surprise that three years later, they're finally selling that information. The surprising thing is that it took them this long to decide to sell it. This really isn't any different than the Nielsen rating. Actually, TiVo can replace the Nielsen rating because that uses rough estimates of # of

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by markhb (11721)

      TiVo can knows how many active subscribers it has and can determine very accurately what each of those TiVo boxes is viewing/recording/skipping around.
      But that self-selected group of subscribers is probably not statistically representative of the broader viewing public. Nielsen Media has spent years working on exactly that question.
      • by mdfst13 (664665)

        But that self-selected group of subscribers is probably not statistically representative of the broader viewing public.

        I'm not sure that that's true. According to http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3623007 [clickz.com] -- 12% of households have a DVR. Sure, there's skew there, but if anything, it's a good skew. DVR owners:

        1. Have enough money to afford a luxury like a DVR.
        2. Actually purchase said luxury.

        Isn't that the advertiser friendly demographic? Has money and wants to spend it on the latest labor saving toys?

        Nielsen has the reverse skew. It requires people to be willing to accept the inconvenience of an outside service tha

    • This really isn't any different than the Nielsen rating.

      Except that they don't pay the Nielsen viewer anything?

      Or that the Nielsen, Arbitron, etc. respondent willingly agreed to provide information on their viewing, listening habits?

      Or maybe that the folks at Nielsen provide a clear and unambiguous privacy policy" [nielsenmedia.com]?
  • ahhh this is old (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SQLz (564901) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:32PM (#17882606) Homepage Journal
    This has been part of Tivo's business plan since the beginning.
  • OpenCable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:43PM (#17882670) Homepage Journal
    A court just blew the cableTV proprietary platform bundle wide open: TV decoders are now open to outside vendors/deployers [kagan.com], starting July 1, 2007. That means that complete "cable cards" will become much cheaper, and that really cheap HW will send the raw data to PCs to be decoded in SW, which can be F/OSS.

    The cable TV network just became a lot more like an internet, and the Internet just became a lot more like a TV network. For those working on it ourselves, anyway.

    So when does MythTV make TiVo look like the Web made AOL look?
    • by markhb (11721)
      From the linked article: Count me in this group

      Others sniff that it's an unnecessary remedy for a problem that doesn't exist.
      From the earlier articles on this, I hadn't realized that my cable company is going to be banned from supplying the current models of set-top boxes. What a complete pain in my ass. TV is at the top of my list of things that should be as much like a toaster as possible.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        There is no way that cablecos will actually stop bundling their own profitable (especially when rented) settop boxes with their service. Theis ruling sets the bar high enough that the inevitable cableco weaseling will still ensure that competitors have access to the "last meter".

        Unless of course the Republican FCC [google.com]'s last ditch effort before the new Democratic Congress replaces them to deliver the reasonable rule wrapped in a "poison pill" of draconian overreach succeeds. Tie up the "controversial" extreme r
    • by Kaenneth (82978)
      Interesting Timeline there; one of Vista's key features is CableCard support, which is awfully hard to support when the cable companies keep dragging their feet.

      (along with IPv6, which is finally moving along)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "The article mentions the possibility for privacy abuse, but with this application of technology Tivo is not providing access to what any one individual user watches via the service."

    This distinction is wrong. Anonymity and privacy are two completely separate concepts. A person's privacy can easily be abused even if his data is kept anonymous. Most people understand information being kept "private" to mean used only for the limited purposes for which they disclosed it, and not re-disclosed in any manner,
  • I (Score:2, Interesting)

    by denbesten (63853)
    Tivo must make three groups happy: Stockholders, Customers and Broadcasters. It seems like collecting and selling statistical information can't help but to improve the mood for the least-happy group -- the broadcasters. Having a way to easily survey 20,000 random households to determine which super bowl ads were the most liked (e.g. played more than once per Tivo), determining if people are skipping or watching opening credits to shows, and determining how many people "bail out" in the middle of a new sh
  • From July 2006: TiVo to Measure Ad-Skipping [slashdot.org]
  • by unassimilatible (225662) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:07PM (#17882850) Journal
    That stands for Hardware Rights Management. TiVos (series 2 and above) are paperweights without this endless subscription "service." As much crap as everyone here gives Microsoft, at least Linux is an option to make PC hardware bundled with Windows operable. TiVos are so locked down via hardware that they are virtually uncrackable and useless without the TiVo extortion payments. Go on the TiVo forums, and all the sheep there call you a thief for merely wanting to use your TiVo without the "service," even as a push-to-record DVR. TiVo has all the sheep fooled into thinking their eternal fees are justified for the privilege of using hardware that the end user bought and owns! Imagine if Microsoft - or GM - tried locking up your hardware (including locking out linux) if you didn't pay an eternal license fee!
    • by Manchot (847225)
      TiVo has all the sheep fooled into thinking their eternal fees are justified for the privilege of using hardware that the end user bought and owns!

      For one thing, Tivo doesn't sell the hardware without the subscription any more. It's considered to be one product. For another, even when they did sell them separately, the cost of the hardware has always been heavily subsidized by Tivo, and the end user would end up paying for a fraction of the manufacturing costs. Therefore, I think it's a stretch to say th
  • by 2008 (900939) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:07PM (#17882854) Journal
    "...selling data on what parts of broadcasts people are rewinding for review..."

    This can only result in more nudity on TV. Woohoo!

    OK, it'll be naked people holding pepsi bottles, but what the hell. Maybe they could do something with them, hint hint.
  • by stickb0y (260670) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:13PM (#17882894)

    Oh come on. Everyone with a TiVo (and even those without) should know that TiVo collects this type of anonymous, aggregate data. Haven't they done that since the beginning? Did you really think they wouldn't provide that data to third parties?

    And frankly, I think it's a good thing. You guys bitch and moan when your favorite TV shows get cancelled because the Nielsen families' interests aren't representative of your own. You guys bitch and moan about advertisers not making more interesting commercials. Well, here you have TiVo, making geek-friendly devices collecting television data about shows and commercials that tech enthusiasts actually watch, and now you guys bitch and moan about that too.

  • ...it wants its "news" story back.

    -R
  • Old News (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alvin_Maker (316828) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:35PM (#17883050)
    This is old news. It is also very easy to opt-out. Just call Tivo customer service (1-877-367-8486) and let them know.
  • Duplicate article (Score:4, Informative)

    by ptomblin (1378) <ptomblin@xcski.com> on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:35PM (#17883054) Homepage Journal
    I know that the collective memory of the Slashdot moderators is less than a day, but this story came out during the 2004 Superbowl:
    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/02/03/18 31222 [slashdot.org]
  • I am sure data mining was a thought out revenue stream that TiVo had planned since it's inception.(One reason I never bought one.) Once a critical mass hits it's Tivo's usage, TiVo can sell on going, up to date statistics- Ratings better than Nielson. TiVo didn't build these only to make our lives easy. Follow the money.
  • I support tivo doing this. as long as it's not personally identifiable information.
    maybe fox wouldn't have cancelled firefly had they known how many people actually watched it.
    I also like that they provide info on commercials.
    this is the first time, I believe, outside of focus groups that companies have feedback on their commercials.
    I personally skip every commercial I can.
  • Anything that could actually improve the quality of ads is a plus in my book.

    Also, I don't have a tivo, so that helps.
  • by wahini (559380) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:54PM (#17883166)

    As someone who has owned a Tivo since about 6 months after they first came out. I was told from day one that they would collect data anonymously on me IF I did not opt-out. Now, I thought very seriously about this issue at the time. I normally opt-out of this kind of stuff but Tivo is one of the LEADING examples of hacker friendly companies selling consumer electronics products. I decided that I wanted to support their business plan since thanks to their hacker friendly policies I was able to upgrade my tiny 14 hr Tivo to an 80+ hour Tivo by myself. At any time before, now, or in the future Tivo could download code to detect and disable my hacked Tivo but they don't because they think differently than 99% of the other companies out there! I think they deserve some F***ING RESPECT & SUPPORT for being a company that is hacker friendly.

    Remember this is not Sony root-kitting your PC, this is Tivo letting you hack the system they sold you. Not only that, I can only think of ONE other company (Garmin for my GPS) that continues to give me both bug fixes and actual enhancements to a product which is so old. I happen to have a lifetime subscription to Tivo, back from day one, when it only cost $150 and the only money they have made off of me since is from this anonymous data that I voluntarily allow them to collect! Tivo astonishingly, given the quality of their product and hacker tolerant policies, still isn't a highly profitable company. Maybe, the other 99% of the companies have it right economically - screw the hackers - but I think we should give credit to those who dare to challenge the established ways of treating customers. Suing your customers and root-kitting their computers is what we should be opposing not collecting anonymous data with full disclosure and an opt-out option.

    • Tivo has never hidden their desire to collect and resell data. They tell advertisers what commercials people watch, which SuperBowl clip gets replayed over and over again, and have started to provide data feed to the Neilsen ratings people. Think about about this, what you watch on Tivo can feed into ratings decision machine. I'm also a lifetime subscriber and take advantage of the ability to download and move recordings around. I know I could do this myself, but being able to put a remote in the hands
  • This gets reported every few months. The moonbats start worrying about the MIB breaking down their door while clearer minds welcome their vieiwing habits mattering for a change, rather than the army of mental patients who have Nielson boxes in their homes, or whatever they use nowadays.

    One thing I'd like is the ability to vote thumbs up or thumbs down for commercials. It would be a moderation system for ads. Think of it! Bad, annoying ads would be modded into oblivion. That fartsucking Dell dude would never
  • and what commercials they are skipping.

    Out of this information they also determined the time that people sleep in front of the television:

    - 100% commercial skipping: awake
    - 0% commercial skipping: asleep

    Other values were not registered.
  • Anyone who thought TiVo is *not* providing data to advertisers is an idiot.
  • I'm sure the privacy nuts will be out in force over this, but honestly.... isn't this a good thing?

    Everyone complains about how the Neilson system is outdated and doesn't accurately reflect what even that TINY segment of the viewing public watches on their televisions. If Tivo is accurately recording what we tape, what we watch, and what we're actually paying attention to instead of what we have on while we're ranting on slashdot... that seems like a pretty good indication of what kinds of things people ac
  • I'd prefer they stay in business. If selling unidentifiable data to advertisers lets them create better ads by nuking the useless ones, then more power to them.

As the trials of life continue to take their toll, remember that there is always a future in Computer Maintenance. -- National Lampoon, "Deteriorata"

Working...