TiVo’s News Flash

Feb 9, 2004  •  Post A Comment

What do Janet Jackson and TiVo have in common? They both used the Super Bowl to get more exposure.
By now, unless you’ve been living on another planet, you know that Ms. Jackson flashed her right breast at the close of the Super Bowl halftime entertainment show. And within 24 hours, the digital video recorder service TiVo flashed a press release saying that its customers replayed Jackson’s “Breast in Show” exhibition twice as often as any other moment during the four-hour game.
“The `wardrobe incident’ during halftime was the scene-stealer of the Super Bowl,” said TiVo President Marty Yudkovitz, referring to Justin Timberlake’s weak attempt to explain what happened when he ripped one cup of the bustier off Ms. Jackson’s body. “The contest on the field continues to be the secondary event during the Super Bowl.”
Yudkovitz says the Jackson-Timberlake duet drew the biggest spike in audience reaction that TiVo has ever measured. In addition, TiVo’s press release was picked up by hundreds of newspapers and broadcast news outlets, including Fox News, The Miami Herald and the Los Angeles Times.
The reaction should not come as much of a surprise. A year ago in this space, I predicted that sex would help drive awareness and adoption of new TV technologies. In fact, just a few hours after TiVo owners were finished fixating on “Jumping Jackson’s Flash,” many high-definition TV viewers were punching their remotes to watch the premiere of porn in HDTV on DirecTV. (The satellite TV service launched a six-hour late-night block of pay-per-view adult films in hi-def a few hours after the game.)
Breasts and Beer
However, TiVo’s analysis of its Super Bowl viewership is an eye-opener, though not to the extent that Ms. Jackson is, of course. For starters, TiVo says that just 40 percent of its customers watched the game. That may sound impressive, but Nielsen Media Research estimates that 47 percent of viewers nationwide were tuned in during the thrilling fourth quarter. Nielsen adds that 143.6 million people watched at least some of the contest.
Why did so many TiVo owners ignore the Super Bowl? Perhaps when you have the power to pause live TV and replay at will, a mere game cannot possibly compare to, say, the baring of a breast.
Another possibility is that TiVo owners are still trying to catch up with their backlog of recorded programs. When you have dozens of shows stockpiled on a hard drive, who has time for the nation’s biggest sporting event?
TiVo’s analysis of the most-watched commercials during the game may also shed some light on its audience. Three of the top five spots were beer commercials. (No. 1: Bud Light’s “Sleigh Ride,” in which a flatulent horse ruins a couple’s romantic interlude.) It seems the TiVo owner is not a couch potato, he’s a couch mug.
Of course, I’m just having fun with TiVo, as the company did with the press release on Janet Jackson. However, the TiVo owner does seem a little obsessed with breasts and beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He can be reached at Swann@TVPredictions.com.