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TiVo to sell audience viewing data to broadcasters

Digital video recorder manufacturer TiVo is to sell the data it collects on its customers' viewing habits to broadcasters and advertisers.

The second-by-second audience viewing data and a quarterly commercial viewing report will show when TiVo users skip commercials.

Information for the detailed analysis is derived from data collected when TiVo boxes make their daily call to retrieve programming information. The data is anonymous and is compiled to provide statistics about activity by many users.

Digital video recorders record programming onto a hard disc drive and allow users to pause live broadcasts, show instant replays and skip commercials.

The first TiVo commercial viewing report shows that users tend to skip commercials in comedies and dramas but will watch ads in reality TV, news and event programmes.

TiVo's new play for revenue could become a privacy issue, but it is not yet because the data is anonymous, said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group.  

"As long as data can not be traced to a household or individual, the privacy implications are not that great," he said.

TiVo claims to have more than 700,000 subscribers, a number it projects will surpass one million by the end of the year.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service


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