TiVo introduces service to measure audience data

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TiVo today introduces an audience-measurement service that offers advertisers and broadcasters moment-to-moment intelligence on viewing patterns within prime-time TV shows, and will sell customized reports with data culled from the viewing habits of its 703,000 subscribers.

Dubbed the TiVo Commercial Viewing Report, the quarterly subscription service is being positioned as a complement rather than a competitor to industry stalwart Nielsen Media Research's audience service.

Still, TiVo executives said the Commercial Viewing Report will offer advertisers data that goes well beyond what Nielsen numbers reveal.


"The level of granularity is absolutely unheard of. You can tell at any moment what parts of the country start to tune out of a program, at what time, by demographic and time of day," said Martin Yudkovitz, president, TiVo. "Anyone can go out and buy gross rating points, but advertisers want to know the most effective use of the dollar."

While Nielsen data does take TiVo into account, only 11 households are included within its panel of 5,000. The data is an accurate reflection of the low rate of TiVo penetration, but doesn't provide a big enough sample size to meaningfully examine TiVo viewing patterns. TiVo's sample size is 11,000. While homes with personal video recorders constitute only 2.4% of all TV households, according to Jupiter Media, that number is expected to reach 20% by 2005, largely through cable and satellite providers' integrating PVR features into advanced set-top boxes.

Nielsen is conducting research into the viewing habits of consumers who are new to TiVo vs. those who have subscribed for some time, a spokeswoman said. Nielsen has also collaborated with TiVo to enable a household with a TiVo system to become part of a Nielsen panel. The TiVo service was developed with Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group.

Data culled by TiVo from November through February focused on viewer retention patterns during commercials. For example, 75% of the total audience for the 45th Grammy Awards broadcast stayed in play mode, in real-time, during the commercial breaks. The relatively high percentage may be attributed to the fact that the event was broadcast live. By contrast, 61% of the TiVo audience fast-forwarded through commercials during TV favorite "Friends." Richard Fielding, VP-director of research, Starcom, said his clients want to know "When given the opportunity to fast forward or skip between commercial breaks, what is the percentage of the viewing audience that is skipping? Because clearly, that has obvious implications for reach and frequency in the TV environment."


The service offers a numerical ranking of the viewer retention of each show in prime time airing on five major networks: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and the WB. The analysis tracks specific viewing patterns during the programs and assigns a numerical score to indicate the show's ability to retain viewers. The data is culled from TiVo set-top boxes that download it daily to the company's broadcast center.

Fast Facts

What: TiVo Commercial Viewing Report

Goal: To provide second-to-second data on consumer behavior while watching TV.

Sample Size: 11,000-person panel

TiVo subscribers: 703,000

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