Talk about having your cake and eating it too: after having sent the advertising industry into a tizzy by enabling consumers to skip over its commercials, TiVo is now offering to sell those very same ad agencies and their clients hard data on the actual effects of DVR usage. The company's new Audience Research and Measurement division will initially utilize a random sampling of 22,000 subscribers to provide corporate customers with information about specific ads -- such as how many people viewed them during certain airings -- though the numbers will not be tied to specific demographic details. It will also use the collected data to tease out trends that may help advertisers combat the growing "problem" of commercial skipping; for instance, the type of program hosting an ad and its position in the commercial block may explain why it was viewed more often during one broadcast than another. This new offering may see TiVo heading towards a marketplace showdown with ratings giant Nielsen Media Research, whose own ad-tracking initiative is scheduled to launch this fall -- although it will not actually collect data on individual commercials. Once again, we've really got to hand it to TiVo -- the company that once looked poised for bankruptcy in the face of increasing DVR commodification has once again managed to stay in the game by leveraging the power of its considerable subscriber base to further diversify its revenue stream.

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