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TiVo Announces New Service Capability

NBC and Showtime are the first television networks to announce plans to use TiVo’s Ipreview system that will allow TiVo users to program their personal video recorders to automatically store programs featured in promotional ads.

TiVo said its Ipreview function, which has long been planned for the system, will be available on NBC and Showtime promotional spots in early 2000.

The function will enable TiVo subscribers to program their personal television recorders to record a television show featured in a promotional preview broadcast on the participating networks. (Both NBC and Showtime have taken equity investments in TiVo.)

Because special codes will be transmitted inside the spots, users will be able to click their remote control to instruct a TiVo recorder (currently marketed by Philips) to capture the program to disk.

The Ipreview function is especially beneficial to network and cable programmers who need “to reach their target audiences in a more effective manner,” said TiVo. At the same time, it offers additional convenience to end users.

TiVo, which charges networks to include the Ipreview capability, is using Ipreview as an incremental revenue source.

In time, such alternative revenue streams may help the company reduce hardware prices and service subscriptions. Currently, TiVo set-top recorders sell for about $599, and users are charged $9.95 per month to use the automatic recording service.

TiVo said the Ipreview capability would appear onscreen as “a small icon in the corner of the promotional program.” This is an indicator to TiVo viewers that they can press an Ipreview button on their remotes to have the program automatically stored as it airs.