TiVo Offers Data on How Many Watch Commercials

Nov 10, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Digital video recorder pioneer TiVo is trying to get involved in the debate over measuring audiences for commercials and how DVRs affect the count.

Tom Rogers, CEO of TiVo, on Friday sent a letter to the research heads of the television networks and top media agency executives saying that his company has “unique data we can bring to the table for TiVo households and by proxy all DVR households.”

That information might prove to be a useful adjunct to Nielsen Media Research’s data on how many people on average watch commercials during a show.

The commercial ratings debate is “so critical to the future of TV that we owe it to ourselves to make sure the discussions are as informed with as many pieces of the puzzle as possible,” Mr. Rogers said in his letter. “We simply believe in a fair and accurate measurement of what viewers are watching.”

TiVo’s data is captured on a second-by-second basis, which may eliminate disputes over what material is counted as a “commercial minute” in the ratings. The company also can measure how long its users wait to view programming, and can sort ratings by both when a commercial break runs and where in a pod a particular spot runs. TiVo also can sort commercial ratings by length of spot, he said.

Nielsen is at the center of a back-and-forth between ad buyers, who earlier this year clashed over whether ad deals should be negotiated on show ratings that include only live viewers, or audiences that watch programs using DVRs. Now the two sides are in conflict over Nielsen’s plan to offer average ratings for commercials.

TiVo can’t offer to generate national ratings like Nielsen because the company’s data covers only people who use the devices. TiVo said is willing to share summaries of its findings with the industry, but details of the data it generates are available only to clients who have made advertising and research deals with it.