The DVR Powerhouse TiVo Inc. announced today that they will be offering a new service that gives advertisers detailed information about TiVo users. This comes as part of a partnership between TiVo Inc. and Starcom USA that will be called "Power Watch(TM) Consumer Panel." This is another move by TiVo to monetize their statistics data already gathered by their TiVo DVR service.
TiVo already sells second-by-second viewing information of television programs and commercials based on the TiVo subscribers viewing habits. The announcement today means TiVo will be adding demographic data about those viewers participating in the panel themselves including age, income, marital status and ethnicity. Before you get too panicked about the privacy thing, you should note that TiVo has recruited 20,000 households to opt-in to the viewership panel so it strictly voluntary. I should also note that TiVo has said that all data will remain anonymous.
"TiVo recruited 20,000 households to opt-in to the viewership panel. Because these subscribers have opted in, TiVo can associate household data with the viewership data, and hence will be able to produce program and commercial viewership reports which can be looked at by aggregate demographic and behavioral audience groups. All data remain completely anonymous."
Advertisers and Marketers who subscribe to this extra data will be able to purchase custom data and to poll those in the "Power Watch(TM) Consumer Panel" to gather custom information that the marketers want to research.
"With the roll-out of the Power||Watch Consumer Panel, TiVo's Stop||Watch(TM) ratings service subscribers will have the ability to purchase custom segmentations to look at TV viewing based on how consumers have responded to their proprietary sponsored questions. TiVo will be conducting a quarterly omnibus survey of Power||Watch panelists. While Starcom has the exclusive access to the first study, all Stop||Watch clients can participate in these surveys with their own sets of questions."
Still, this is sure to raise further privacy concerns for TiVo users. My take on it is that as long as TiVo keeps this as a voluntary, opt-in program it is a good thing for TiVo, the marketers as well as the people who volunteered (since they received a "raffle" to win a new TiVo) as well.
Thanks to Dave Zatz for the tip!
You might also be interested in this article on television statistics providers: