TiVo’s attempt to transform itself into a media services company took another small step forward Thursday. CBS signed on as a client of TiVo’s Stop Watch service, which provides second-by-second viewing data from a panel of 20,000 TiVo users.
Why do a deal with TiVo? Nielsen includes about 3,000 DVR homes in its national sample, but the networks and advertisers want far more detailed information on how people watch television with DVRs.
TiVo’s sample will give a lot more data, but with some pretty big limitations. First, it’s a sample of TiVo homes, a self-selecting sample of affluent TV enthusiasts. Second, the data comes from anonymous set tops, so no way to know how demographics and other personal data affect viewing behaviour. Nevertheless, TiVo’s is one of the richest troves of DVR data available — for now, at least. Rentrak, which crunches set-top data for most large cable operators, is developing its own set-top measurement sample of 500,000 boxes, scheduled for launch later this year. And TNS is launching a 100,000 set-top panel with DirecTV.
Despite the limitations, the industry seems to be lining up behind TiVo on Stop Watch, a sign that Nielsen isn’t sufficient in a new world of on-demand television. NBC U, Carat USA, Interpublic, and Starcom are already clients.
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