updated 11:20 am EST, Tue December 9, 2008
TiVo Show Pause Ads
TiVo today implemented the potentially controversial step of introducing ads to its Pause Menu interface. The move lets advertisers buy text spots that will appear whenever the user either pauses a live or timeshifted show. The ads can appear either cued to a particular show or can be automatically flagged for when certain keywords appear or even for entire genres. Fox and Mercedes-Benz are among the early companies planning to advertise.
The Pause Menu itself is also being upgraded from the TiVo owner's point of view and brings up the Swivel Search feature to let viewers find information about both the show in progress and related content through the programming guide.
TiVo justifies the move as a necessary one for advertisers, many of whom have been cut out of traditional ad viewing by the existence of DVRs both from TiVo and rivals. As many recorders automatically detect and let users skip commercials, less of the audience is ultimately seeing the paid ads and so are unintentionally hurting TV networks' revenues. Methods have been tried to overcome this in the past and have included ads that display when a user fast-forwards through a commercial break.
The rollout of the new pause ads is cautious in spite of TiVo's hopes and currently only supports older Series 2 TiVo boxes rather than the newer Series 3, HD and HD XL models.