update (by Matt): Sam's article that involved this survey is now up at the Forbes site, with cautious quotes by me on TiVo's financial future.
update (by Gen): The raw survey data for Sam's article is up on his MediaSurvey.com site. This is great information for marketers as well as for people who want to learn more about designing next-generation connected media devices and services.
Sam Whitmore, columnist for Forbes.com is doing a survey of Tivo Users. If you'd like to participate in Whitmore's lazyweb request, here are the details.
Greetings to all:
My name is Sam Whitmore, media columnist for Forbes.com. I'm embarking on the process of writing a column about TiVo from a business angle. As part of my research, I'd love for as many of you as possible to give me some perspective on TiVo the company.
Specifically, I'd like your suggestions on whom to interview for the column. So far I've identified Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research, and of course a representative from TiVo itself.
I'd also like your views/comments on the following topics, many of which I've gleaned from TiVo's most recent 10-Q statement to the SEC.
Please visit Gizmodo for the full survey.
While this is not directly PVR-related, it covers some of the same issues that are relevant to the PVR industry in terms of the location-based advertising and the targeting of consumers that is on the rise.
The Weather Channel, for example, plans to activate a national system on Oct. 1 that among other things can tailor ads to the forecast, sending commercials for rugged trucks to rainy parts of the country while simultaneously sending commercials for convertibles to those viewers getting sun. Big advertisers so far seem interested. Home Depot, Kraft, Six Flags and Toyota have already helped the Weather Channel test its new services.Advertising: Rain or Shine, Win or Lose, This Ad Is Just for You [nytimes.com]
Separately, Comcast recently began offering advertisers the ability to buy commercial time in the country's 10 largest markets and deliver highly tailored versions of each spot based on geographic, demographic and other factors. Previously, marketers would have had to buy separate commercial time on individual cable systems or broadcast affiliates to achieve the same effect.
HDTV cards for PCs have been out for a couple years now, but are frequently priced in the $300-500 range. Today that all changes. ATI is one of the leading graphics cards manufacturers with a long tradition of producing TV capture cards, and they've recently released the HDTV All-in-wonder card for $199 with an included antenna. I assume due to the mass market nature of ATI's operations, they could finally bring the prices down compared to other cards in the market.
Now, this will only record over-the-air broadcasts from the major networks, not cable or satellite HDTV programming, and depending on where you live that is likely to mean half a dozen channels of standard network shows. ExtremeTech has a so-so review as well as HotHardware's favorable review.
TiVo's been launching all sorts of wacky stuff lately, most likely in an attempt to retain what marketshare they still have amid all the new competing products coming out of cable and satellite companies. TiVos are now lower priced. And you get the Home Media Option for free. They're working on internet-download pay-per-view and today's news is that financial services company Charles Schwab will get their own featured showcase featuring golfer Phil Mickelson during U.S. Open.
It seems like a weird fit at first, but if you drew a venn diagram of potential Schwab customers and existing TiVo customers, I'm sure you'd see a lot of overlap, as TiVos are still pricey enough to be used by well to-do customers. First there were luxury car ads from Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes, now it's Schwab. It'll be interesting to see what other advertisers join up with TiVo in the future.
STOP THE WEBSERVERS!!!
James Fallows mentions PVRblog in his article about Google's AdSense!!!
Just as eBay connects each seller to a universe of potential buyers, AdSense connects each blogger and local Webmaster to 150,000 potential advertisers. The crucial point is that the blogger reaches those potential advertisers without having to hire a sales staff, prepare media kits or invest scarce time and money.How cool is that?!?! One of my favorite writers mentions us in the NYTimes!!!
The operators of PVRBlog, which covers TiVo and related devices, have told a similar story. Even blogs dealing with political and social themes have received modest new revenue streams.
How Google Took the Work Out of Selling Advertising [nytimes.com]
This is pretty cool news for folks that own a Series 2 TiVo with the Home Media Option and have it hooked to a broadband line (probably not the majority of TiVo owners, but a perfect demographic to sell to). Every Tuesday, music labels release new albums, and Best Buy will be streaming down a few demo tracks from new albums every Tuesday.
That was one thing I found kind of disappointing with the Home Media Option when I tested it last summer, the music didn't change very often and they weren't taking advantage of the potential the music feature offered customers.
So new music on your TiVo every Tuesday going forward sounds like a great idea, both for TiVo owners looking for new songs to sample, and for Best Buy, since they'll likely sell a few more albums this way.
Blurring the lines between PVRs and VOD (video on demand), Tivo has annouced that they will begin a new service whereby Tivo customers will be able to download content (movies and music) to their Tivo units. Tivo is calling this something different from broadcast tv, cable and satellite. No pricing or launch date has been announced.
This is a critical move for Tivo because their business partner, DirecTV, recently sold off their 3.4 million shares in Tivo, causing the stock to drop by 14%.
One of the stumbling blocks for DVD or HDTV-quality downloads over the Internet is that many people consider a minimum of 5 Mb/sec. for the broadband connection. In Japan and Korea, the average broadband connection is 15 Mb/sec. and can go up to 100 Mb/sec. with fiber optic services, but in the US, the average is still 1.5 Mb/sec. at best.
Reuters catches up with the homebrew PVR revolution with today's article "Step aside TiVo, here comes Freevo." It's a new overview of the home PC-based options, including Freevo, MythTV, Snapstream's BeyondTV, and Microsoft's Media Center. It also mentions the the Build Your Own PVR website.
Personally, although I've heard good things about MythTV and Freevo, unless you're fairly familiar with building your own PCs from scratch and running command-line tools, Snapstream's BeyondTV is the easiest way to dip your toe into the homebrew PVR pool. Microsoft's version is a non-option, as it can only be legally obtained when buying a new home theater PC, which typically runs $1200-1600.