NBC Universal time-shifts with TiVo data


UPDATED 11:38 a.m. PT Nov. 29, 2007

For the next several years, NBC Universal will rely on TiVo to tell it how television viewers are using their DVRs and, presumably, to introduce interactive commercials to the masses.

In a pact announced Tuesday, the companies said they will use TiVo's existing interactive advertising platforms and create new ones and split some of the revenue the platforms could generate.

The deal also calls for NBC Uni to subscribe to TiVo's Stop//Watch and Power//Watch services, which provide second-by-second data about shows and commercials that are being watched, paused, skipped and rewound.

Stop//Watch is based on a random and anonymous sampling of 20,000 of TiVo's 4.2 million subscribers each night, whereas Power//Watch data comes from an opt-in panel of 20,000 TiVo users, so it includes detailed demographic information.

One of the interactive advertising initiatives NBC Uni will use are TiVo's tags, which allow viewers to click during a commercial in order to obtain more information about the advertised product then return to the show they were viewing while not missing programming.

NBC Uni, with its 14 television networks and 10 NBC owned-and-operated stations, becomes the first large network to sign on to TiVo's interactive advertising and audience-measurement initiatives.

TiVo, which is expected to report its quarterly earnings after Wall Street's closing bell today, has been trying for years to diversify beyond its subscription business. Executives, though, have yet to reveal whether its audience measurement and interactive advertising businesses have resulted in significant revenue.

"It will be a material and meaningful growth business. I'm referring to advertising and measurement," said TiVo vp audience research and measurement Todd Juenger.

With its measurement service, TiVo encroaches on a business dominated by Nielsen Media Research, owned by the Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter. TiVo and Nielsen had a licensing and marketing relationship that ended last year.

For NBC Uni, the time was right for the TiVo deal. With the advent of the Commercial+3 ratings as this year's currency, it made TiVo's services more attractive.

"A year ago, we wouldn't even have had that conversation. But with the currency conversation in the industry, and being paid in who's watching the commercials, we no longer had a disincentive for time-shifted viewing," said Mike Pilot, NBC Uni's sales chief. "A year ago, we wouldn't have wanted to introduce a format that would have encouraged the viewer to leave live-viewing mode."

Paul J. Gough in New York contributed to this report.