TiVo’s Early Adopters

Why TiVo Owners Can’t Shut Up is the title of the NYTimes story: “Not since the PalmPilot debuted in 1996 has a new electronic contraption sparked a cultlike following and so many zealous proselytizers…TiVo has around 700,000 subscribers a tiny fraction of American television viewers, 70 percent of whom have never even heard of TiVo, according to Josh Bernoff, an analyst at Forrester Research. But, Mr. Bernoff said, TiVo’s fans are a vocal minority.”

TiVo is a personal video recorder, a kind of VCR on steroids that hooks up to a television and can record up to 80 hours of programming on a hard drive. Much of the media coverage about the device has focused on viewers’ ability to skip commercials at the touch of a button. But TiVo worshipers say that is only part of the gadget’s allure.

Press a button, and TiVo will record every episode of “Six Feet Under,” or any other show, for a season. TiVo viewers can pause when the phone rings, or speed through the boring parts. By fast-forwarding through commercials and those dull conferences at the mound, a TiVo viewer can watch a baseball game in 40 minutes without missing a pitch. Sit-coms take about 22 minutes. “Saturday Night Live” and “60 Minutes” can be viewed back to back on Monday.

Like early adopters of cellphones and the Internet, the first wave of users of personal video recorders swear that the devices have fundamentally altered their lives changing domestic routines, making it possible to live a life free of commercial interruptions and even providing the satisfaction of a rebellion against network goliaths.

The devices also make it easier to watch a lot more TV. Studies by Next Research, a media consulting firm, show that TiVo users watch an average of five to six additional hours of television per week, the company said.


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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.