. . . Wednesday November 17, 2004

TiVo: Television’s Intravenous Opportunity

And thus said the ad executive: “I look at TiVo being first generation of the TV advertising of the future.”

Not what we had in mind, perhaps, but not really that surprising either. If you protect consumers from something, then it’s pretty likely that you’ll be selling them something else. And so it will be for TiVo as they move aggressively down the road towards offering opt in ads, surveys, products and other marketing messages to their subscribers as they fast forward over traditional commercials.

First you build a wall. Then you create holes in that wall that can only be accessed by those who pay you. It’s a decent business model for the companies that own a userbase. It’s get a little more tricky when those customers are paying a monthly fee for the right not to be bothered.

On one hand, TiVo consumers will be pleased to know that they will still be able to fast forward past the ads in which they have no interest. And TiVo’s fan base is so rabid that many of them will welcome any effort to come up with a sustainable business model that will keep their favorite peanut shaped remote firmly in their clutches.

But as the great Matt Haughey explains: “My first impulse is, this is going to start the slippery slope.”

And that slope was likely being greased since the guys from TiVo had nothing more than an idea and a power point presentation. It was really the only way this episode could play out. At first the ads will be non-intrusive. But that will change if no one stops to interact. Soon, there will likely be options for users to pay more or less depending on how many ads they interact with. The bottom line is that the marketers’ job is to find you and they will. And TiVo is looking to shift the ad dollars from the broadcasters to the companies that own the consumers. That’s them. And that’s the cable and satellite companies who have long been unsatisfied with your measly monthly fees.

So here’s the question: Now that TiVo’s plans are clear and advertisers are buying into the model, is it more likely or less likely that TiVo itself will survive?

Concentration is important!