Being Watched

Advertising: TiVo Is Watching When You Don’t Watch, and It Tattles

AS the advertising and television industries debate how to measure viewers of shows watched on digital video recorders, the pioneering maker of the recorders, TiVo, is getting into the argument. It is starting a research division to sell data about how its 4.4 million users watch commercials — or, more often, skip them.

The service is based on an analysis of the second-by-second viewing patterns of a nightly sample of 20,000 TiVo users, whose recorders report back to TiVo on what was watched and when.

[…] For now, TiVo will not be able to tell advertisers anything about the demographics of the audience it measures. The privacy policy of the service allows it to gather data about viewing habits, but not any personal information. Mr. Juenger said TiVo hoped to find a way to change that by the end of the year.