A nasty surprise lies ahead for users of personal video recorders.
TiVo and Replay market devices that are godsends to serious TV hounds. They connect at night to a program directory, then let you record 30 or more hours of programming to replay at your leisure. What’s more, they recommend or record programs based on your viewing habits – all the episodes of a weekly show, or all the films with a certain actor.
Last week, everyone’s TiVo in the US recorded a Sheryl Crow music video and two commercials for Best Buy that nobody asked for.
All British TiVos recorded a new sitcom that nobody asked for. BBC-TV paid TiVo to make their machines record the show and prevent people from erasing it for a week.
TiVo has made no secret of its intention to work with broadcasters and advertisers, and to market products directly to its 400,000-strong captive audience. As I noted a few days ago, the entertainment industry is using lawsuits and legislation to change the design of PVRs so you cannot skip past advertising.
Soon TiVo and Replay will either be coerced or paid to force you to watch the ads and the videos and the shows as a condition of using these boxes.