TiVo Inserts Ads Into Now Playing Groups

Matt Haughey at PVRblog noticed some new advertising in his TiVo interface. We’ve seen a number of advertising methods on the TiVo boxes in the past – Gold Star promotions on the TiVo Central screen, Record Tag to ‘Press Thumbs Up to Record’ other programs, Product Watch in Music, Photos, Programs & More, Interactive Tags for ‘Press Thumbs Up for More Information’ on ads, Program Placement for ads on the Keep/Delete screen at the end of a program, product Showcase, static images aka billboard ads during fast-forward over commercials, and others, but now it looks like TiVo is placing ads within groups on the Now Playing List.

As you can see in Matt’s screen shots, there is a Gold Star item at the end of the recording group. In his case he has a group for the Winter X Games with three recordings, but there is a fourth item for ’1 Pro. 1 Joe. One epic journey’ which links to a promotional Showcase for an upcoming program for The Taupo 1000. It appears to work in much the same was as Program Placement ads.

Matt is bothered by the new ads, and I think understandably so. I haven’t encountered them yet myself. I’ve been keeping up with my recordings lately, so I don’t have many groups in my NPL, and I suspect it is only triggered when the group fits the current ads seeking placement. However, seeing his screen shots I have a negative reaction to them.

I haven’t had a problem with the other advertising methods, and I’ve even been critical of those who dislike them, so that may seem odd. But it is really an emotional reaction. Ads in other areas of the TiVo UI never bothered me. But somehow the Now Playing List feels different. That’s my area, my recordings. Sure, there are TiVo Suggestions, but even those are based off my viewing habits – and they can be disabled. So seeing the ad in a program group feels a little invasive, in intrusion into personal space.

Intellectually, I realize it probably isn’t that much different from the existing ads. It looks easily ignored, just like the TiVo Central Gold Star promotion. It is at the end of the group, and the gold star makes it easy to tell it isn’t a recording. One thing I’m wondering, that you can’t tell from the image, is how it interacts with group navigation. If I hit ‘Advance’ or ‘Page Down’ to go to the end of the group – does it stop on the last recording, or is the ad selected? I’d hope for the former, but suspect the latter. And what if you view the Program Details screen for a recording and use Chan Up/Down to navigate between the recordings – can you go ‘down’ to the ad, or does it stop on the last recording? I suspect it does stop on the last recording, since the ad isn’t really an item in the group, but rather a shortcut/link to the Showcase.

I accept that advertising is part of the TiVo Service, and important to the future of the company. Subscriptions alone won’t support the company, they need multiple sources of revenue. I understand that and I think the value from the service is more than worth having a few ads. But I’d still rather not see them in the NPL.

What do you think?

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • http://xdreamwalker.livejournal.com xdreamwalker

    I have been seeing these ads for a little while now. Now, I have a general distaste for ads. I really don’t like ads in the TiVo UI, I pay for the service. I really don’t like ads in my ‘Pay TV’ service, ala paying for cable TV. I have, however, grown accustomed to them and like death and taxes I know they are not going anywhere. I also understand TiVo’s need for them. Like you have said ‘Subscriptions alone won’t support the company.’

    I can confirm that when you press ‘Advance’ or ‘Page Down’ to go to the end of the group it goes to the end, which is the gold star item and not the last recording on the list. grrrr..

  • MeleeDave

    I’ve seen these ads and agree they are bothersome, but not too hard to get use to.

    However, while watching the last CNET TivoCast, whenever you fast forward or rewind, it pops up an add in the center of the screen the entire time you are fast forwarding or rewinding. The ad is huge, taking up half the screen, making it hard to see what you are even fast forwarding through. This is really annoying. Annoying enough to make me stop watching TivoCasts on my Tivo.

  • RoyalWulff

    While the gold star advertizing doesn’t particularly concern me the static ad’s in the TivoCast content is particularly annoying. The reason I find this so distasteful is that first doesn’t distinguish between fast-forwarding the show or the commercials (how could they) but second that the image is so large that it obscures the show making it difficult to see when I need to start watching again. I have never taken issue with the images in the upper left or right because they are out of the way but this big ad in the middle I simply don’t like. I have long been a Tivo fan/lover and I recommend it frequently to friends and family but if they keep putting their needs ahead of my interests for a box I already have paid for (i.e. lifetime service) I have to start questioning that advocacy. I would ask Tivo to take a step back on this one and ask yourself if maybe you have crossed a line with this forceful type of advertizing.

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ MegaZone

    Melee & Royal, those are the so-called ‘billboard’ ads and they have been around for quite a while now. They show up when you fast forward over a tagged advertisement. They should only show up over an ad. The TiVo can tell the ad from the program by flags inserted into the VBI signal – the same way it knows when to put up the Interactive Tags (Press Thumbs Up for…). And the static images are restricted to being presented over the same product – so Coke can run an image when you FFW over a Pepsi ad, etc.

    These are not restricted to TiVoCast at all – in fact they’ve been used on recordings for some time, and only now have been extended to TiVoCast content as well. Hmm, since TiVoCast is ‘sponsored’ content, perhaps the ‘only over an ad’ restriction isn’t applied.

    If you haven’t seen them before it is probably just the odds – they don’t see to be used as much, and since they only show up on FFW through a tagged add, the odds of any one user seeing one are still somewhat low. Personally I never see them in normal use because I use 30-second skip and not FFW.

    I have seen them because I’ve sought them out when reported, to experience them myself. I didn’t think they were too bad, since the image went away at the end of the ad it was itself an indication of the end of the ad. And since I was skipping an ad it seemed fair to get a static version of the ad in exchange. There are also different sizes, three I think, and there are some positioning options from what I understand.

  • Morac

    There’s been a huge discussion about these ads over at the TiVo Discussion boards and the majority consensus is that they aren’t liked.

    As for the jump to end button, it now takes you to the ad instead of the last recording in your group. Similarly the ad can be moved to just like any other item in your group.

  • http://www.zatznotfunny.com Dave Zatz

    I’ve seen the gold star items in folders and don’t care for it. It’s not horrible, but I prefer it wasn’t there. Also the display is inconsistent – on TiVo Central it’s got the new graphical border, on this screen it’s tacked on. If they’re going to do it, I prefer the pettier look. And they should always place it at the very bottom of the screen, instead of directly under the last item (if the items don’t completely fill the display).