TiVo Is Crashing The Party--Networks Aren't Happy

TiVo can't get a break. First, it was the advertisers who didn't like TiVo; now it's the content owners.

TiVo's enhancement of its TiVoToGo service, which allows viewers to transfer video to their PC, will now allow them to transfer video to their Apple iPods and Sony PlayStation Portables (PSPs).

Networks and studios view that as a threat to cut into their business--the one that would pay them, in ABC's case, $1.99 per play for its top shows such as "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost."

The move comes on the heels of NBC making a deal with DirecTV for its new non-TiVo branded DVR player, where NBC and its producers will reap the benefits of charging a fee for accessing a specific TV show.

With TiVo, viewers can now do that for free--and that's what's upsetting studio and network executives. The difference is that with TiVo, a DVR just needs to be programmed.



TiVo looks like it's scrambling to stay top of mind--especially now that no-name knockoffs offered by cable and satellite companies are dominating the market.

It's not surprising that with the rush of big TV business news of the last several weeks concerning the networks' plans to offer shows on a fee, on-demand basis, there would be some rough spots. Up until this point the only affected parties seemed to be TV network affiliates.

As Daily Variety mentions, there is irony here. All this grumbling comes a week after the networks declared that DVRs benefit business because they generate more viewership for the hit shows. And networks, naturally, want to charge advertisers for that extra viewership.

Now content owners are saying, in effect, DVRs are only good if they are controlling their distribution, if the networks have some sort of business arrangement with DVR companies.

The fact is that networks never liked TiVo, because it is mostly independent and because it ushered in the way that consumers could fast-forward through commercials. All that means a loss of advertising, threatening the essence of the traditional network business.

Networks as a result realize with the technology cat out of the bag, they'd better look to dance to a different drummer with fee-based, on-demand sales of their TV shows.

But that same technology now seems to get in the way.

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