SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) While millions of Americans watched the Super Bowl, TiVo Inc. was watching the viewers.
The maker of digital video recorders used its technology to analyze which football plays or TV ads its subscribers chose to view again or to see in slow motion.
It is the kind of information broadcasters, content distributors and advertisers could use to direct tailored messages as more American households embrace DVRs. Of the football action, the game-winning field goal garnered the most replay attention.
TiVo viewers did more instant replays of Super Bowl commercials than of the game itself, and the Pepsi ads featuring Britney Spears were the MVP, said John Ghashghai, TiVo’s director of audience research.
TiVo did not release actual numbers on how many times viewers used instant-replay or slow-motion functions. But it said the special features were used an average of 44 times per household during the broadcast.
Already, the NFL has been paying TiVo for “audience measurement” data. It learned, for instance, that a Budweiser commercial received the most pause-and-replays during an earlier wild-card playoff game.
Other advertisers and networks have worked with TiVo in the past for similar data.
“As this analysis shows, the growth in the use of TiVo technology can have a profound impact on how the Super Bowl audiences of the future will watch and interact with the broadcast,” said TiVo’s chief executive, Mike Ramsay.
The company would not disclose how much it charges businesses such as the NFL for such marketing research.
Digital video recorders have been slow to take off, but market research firm Forrester Research projects that the number of U.S. households with a digital video recorder will grow from the current 800,000 to 42 million by 2006. The other big name in DVRs is ReplayTV, owned by SONICblue.
The devices work like a VCR, with a hard drive and an interactive programming guide that is periodically updated via telephone or Internet connection.
Subscribers can pause live television, skip commercials and automatically chooses programs to record with an intelligent search function.
At the same time, DVRs can monitor viewer habits and even record shows automatically based on a viewer’s apparent preferences.
Privacy advocates have decried such technologies as invasive, but TiVo officials say they do not pass along information that would identify individual viewers.
When gathering customer marketing research, TiVo says it does not link viewer data to their name, sex or age only into one big database that can identify users by ZIP code.