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TiVo Announces ‘KidZone’ Feature

New York – TiVo said here today that it will offer a new program-filtering service that is easy to set up and use, and is designed to record and aggregate only the most appropriate content for children.

TiVo is working with two groups — Common Sense Media and Parents Television Council — which regularly screen and rate children’s television content to help parents decide what programming is most suitable for their children to watch.

The service, called TiVo KidZone, will use the group’s ratings to have TiVo recorders automatically find and record programming that children will be free to access and view.

KidZone will be deployed in June as a new feature for all 1.4 million owners of stand-alone Series 2 TiVo devices. The software and service will be available for no additional charge to TiVo subscribers.

KidZone will not be available to the small population of TiVo standalone Series 1 boxes or to the large population of DirecTV TiVo set-top boxes, due to the personal video recorder company’s fading business relationship with News Corp., which recently launched its own proprietary digital video recorders for the satellite service.

KidZone will automatically record programming to a special section of the TiVo menu which is openly available to children. Older viewers can move on to view other content on the device by entering a password.

TiVo CEO Tom Rogers said KidZone was designed to take a lot of the work and confusion out of filtering programming for inappropriate language or sexual and violent content. He said that current ratings systems and codes, V-chips and even TiVo’s existing parental controls that use content codes can be hard for parents to understand and use.

The KidZone feature includes over rides to allow parents to program the TiVo to record additional content to the KidZone, even if that content is not part of the pre-selected fare for a pre-set age level.

KidZones can be set up according to three age groups including: 6 and under, 7 to 9 and 10 to 12.

In addition, parents can visit the TiVo Web site to read reviews of programming from the two children’s media groups to select programs and schedule the TiVo to record them. Series 2 recorders networked to a PC can be programmed to record the programs directly from the Web site.

TiVo executives said the service was not designed to block programming, but to find and record the best programming for children.