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Hollywood fatcat calls TiVo use "theft"

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Hal O'BrienPerson was signed in when posted
06:36 AM ET (US)
The really bizarre part of this is... We aren't his customers. His customers -- the people who actually give him money -- are the advertisers. If he already has their money, why should he give a leap whether we watch ads, or not? His contract is between AOLTW and Proctor and Gamble. We ain't in it.

About the only thing I can figure is that he's feeling pressure from his real customers. But then, advertising revenues are down in all media, mostly because the customer base is finally wising up to the fact that advertising has only a tenuous relationship to sales.

(This is why I warned any old media types who would listen that their schadenfreude when Internet ad revenue started plunging was probably not a wise idea, because once the paying customers started questioning the efficacy of advertising in one medium... Anyway, you can connect the dots.)
h0tgritsPerson was signed in when posted
07:25 PM ET (US)
Damn, what is it with Hollywood people that gives them such big heads?
We need to rewrite copyright rules in this country if nothing more than to deflate the egos of people like him.
Zed LopezPerson was signed in when posted
04:36 PM ET (US)
Jeez, that's brilliant!

I mean, I hate getting enthused about advertising tech, but that's really a cool and clever hack.
Mark A HebertPerson was signed in when posted
09:20 AM ET (US)
Sure I'm paranoid, but I've got my reasons.

Who all remembers Burma Shave roadside ads? Nod and grunt.

I'm convinced that there are already advertixers hip to Tivo and the double-arrow FF, who have built ads to run and skip with that tempo in a parallel PVR timeline. Numerous times my wife and I have stopped in mid ad-jump to view in real-sic-time a blurg that beaconed through the speilstream. We've even respeedplayed it to examine the TVerismilitude of our initial impression.

We are not mad for thinking this! By the way I need a tivo for my car radio. anybody know of one?
bruceePerson was signed in when posted
10:22 PM ET (US)
I never signed no contract to watch ads. Sue me!
Dav ColemanPerson was signed in when posted
08:34 PM ET (US)
I rarely watch live tv, and I usually skip over the commercials, however if I don't bother to FF (usually if I'm working at the computer rather than really paying attention) occasionally I actually replay commercials if one looks funny/cool or has good music. I wonder if that is tracked at all?
Alex ShafferPerson was signed in when posted
06:48 PM ET (US)
If using a TiVo is theft, so is using a remote control.

I mean, before TiVo, when a commercial came on, I either hit "mute" or changed the channel.

Guess we're going to need chips in those remotes. And maybe restraints in our chairs, so we can't get up to use the toilet either.

These people are delusional. No accident that some of the best programming going on in television isn't advertiser sponsored, but subscriber sponsored (I'm thinkin' HBO here).

[ Mr. Nosuch / ]
MartyPerson was signed in when posted
06:38 PM ET (US)
I'm not sure how standard ad supported Tivo can survive either. since getting one, I seldom watch live TV, and I usually (sometimes I don't) hit the FF button to skip ads. On the other hand, the broadcasters that license our PUBLIC airwaves haven't exactly acted in the best interest of the community. For example, they are supposed to provides slots in their ad schedule for public interest ads. A few are shown during prime time, most show up around 2 am. And if most free TV dissappeared, what would we as a culture lose? I can't get too worked up about losing something that is mostly crap. Perhaps I would have more time to read.
chico haasPerson was signed in when posted
05:58 PM ET (US)
Well, one answer for broadcast networks to buy TiVo or Replay and encourage advertisers to provide entertaining content for PVRs not unlike bmw's web "films". A workable marriage since TiVo, as you know, is all set up to tell advertisers which viewer watches what.
Phil BarnhartPerson was signed in when posted
05:44 PM ET (US)
From an outsider's standpoint, does anybody know the breakdown of a typical monthly cable bill? How much goes to who? I suspect that at least SOME of the money goes to the content providers...

Cory DoctorowPerson was signed in when posted
05:33 PM ET (US)
You're right that commercial-supported broadcast TV will have to change in order to be sustainable in a world of universal TiVo ownership. That doesn't mean that TiVo should be enjoined from producing its devices until/unless it can tell Hollywood how it's going to make money on the new regime. We've *never* operated on this principle, and it's turned out pretty good.

As to what the model is going to be, I dunno. I will point out, though that new bizmodels for distruptive tech are fantastically bizarre before they're implemented:

"So, Mr. Vaudevallian, don't trouble yourself at all about this radio thing. In a few years, we will have serial dramas, underwritten by soap manufacturers. They will pay you big bucks to perform your music on stage and then the recordings will be replayed. These replays will generate huge dollars by means of a rights-society created by an act of Congress that will randomly sample the airwaves to determine what's being played; the rights-society will get its money from honor-system payments generated by braodcasters who will keep track of their own volume of titles played. When it's all said and done, your industry will be tens, if not hundreds of times larger than it is today."
xradiographerPerson was signed in when posted
05:27 PM ET (US)
I'd really like to review that contract, because the last time I checked, I wasn't receiving too much in royalties for the use the broadcasting spectrum.

yadda yadda yadda FCC licensing yadda yadda public trust blah blah.


Is it theft when I remove all the maglets from my subscriptions, and don't read the advertsing supplements in my New Yorker? Since Junk Mail effectively subsidizes the US Postal Service, am I stealing when I throw it away?

Zed LopezPerson was signed in when posted
05:11 PM ET (US)
The "contract" language is totally bogus, of course. But TiVo does totally subvert broadcast television's source of income. Unlike with VCRs, it actually becomes practical and convenient to watch plenty of broadcast TV without seeing commercials. Except for live events where watching in real-time is a priority, there becomes little reason to ever see them, and obviously advertisers are going to respond by not being willing to pay as much money. Ultimately,
I don't see that broadcast TV could survive TiVo in every pot.


can anyone tell me why I'm wrong that broadcast TV couldn't survive universal TiVo?

can anyone suggest a palatable model for TiVo users to pay for the shows they watch? (I'd hate to see a model like the current one by which blank media purchases subsidize major record labels...)

are people willing to just say good-bye to 'free' ad-supported broadcast TV as a model that has become technologically outdated?

I don't have a TV let alone a TiVo, but I block some web ads with Proximitron, so I'm a "contract-breaker" too.
Cory DoctorowPerson was signed in when posted
05:05 PM ET (US)
TiVo is one of those things that you have to use in order to understand (GPS in your car, cellphones, and email are other examples). I can describe the technical characteristics of my TiVo for you in the tiniest detail, but until you've set up a TiVo on your media totem, you'll never understand just how transformative it is to own one. I've completely forgotten what it's like to watch dumb TV. When I check into a hotel and put the tube on, it's like I've travelled back to some dark age where TV sucked.
D FitchPerson was signed in when posted
04:52 PM ET (US)
JRC, Tivo is basically a big meaty VCR that's fairly smart, and doesn't use any tapes. You say, "Dear Tivo, I would like to see everything with Bill Murray in it. Next, record The Daily Show whenever it's on. I'd like an episode or two of Spongebob Squarepants as well." Et cetera.

You sit down to watch TV and can watch whatever has been recorded, "Oh, hey! The procrastination episode of Spongebob!" -- just like you had spent time programming a VCR. You can mark a show to "save until I delete" if it was really good.

Of course you can watch live TV, and pause/rewind/fast forward, but I don't think I have used that feature more than a couple times.
JRCPerson was signed in when posted
03:55 PM ET (US)
Okay, I'm ashamed to ask this, but I hope you'll all forgive me.

Aside from skipping commercials, what makes Tivo so cool? Assume I know nothing about Tivo and have been without television for about a year, which is true. I'm about to get cable, and everywhere I turn there's another column lauding Tivo's wonderfulness, but they never seem to get into what it actually DOES.
Edited 04-30-2002 04:30 PM
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