TiVo will sell info on viewing habits. Advertisers and networks will know exactly what you're watching, or skipping over

By Gary Susman
Updated June 03, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

If you’re a subscriber to TiVo’s digital video recording service, you know that, just as you’re watching you’re TV, the TiVo box is watching you as well, keeping track by the second of what you’re watching and what you’re skipping over. Now, Reuters reports, TiVo plans to sell that information to advertisers and networks. The company will compile the viewing habits of a sample of subscribers into a quarterly report that the company’s president says could serve as a useful complement to Nielsen ratings data.

For instance, advertisers could see which commercials people are actually watching and not skipping. Networks could see which characters on a particular show send viewers reaching for their channel-changers. Currently, only 700,000 viewers subscribe to TiVo, and privacy-minded viewers may opt out of letting the service monitor their viewing habits, but the company says few subscribers do so.