Technology: TiVo genie is out of the bottle

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TiVo and a raft of emerging video-on-demand services may well become the next interactive killer app. TiVo-style capabilities and other interactive TV features, likely to become standard in cable set-top boxes, offer the prospect of greater consumer control. Marketers will need to improve the way they craft and target messages in order to achieve the much-vaunted one-to-one relationship with consumers.

TiVo reported 422,000 subscribers as of April 30, far below the millions forecast by bullish analysts three years ago. While its profile is rising in media circles, the stock trades near its all-time low. But the service is slowly luring marketers to advertainment programs where companies have created unique content packages. The latest: Interscope Geffen A&M today debuts an "artist of the month" effort, giving TiVo users music video content.

TiVo says it will grow to 680,000 to 800,000 subscribers by yearend. Whatever happens to TiVo itself, the company is seeding a market that should change forever the way consumers watch and interact with TV and advertising.

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