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Play It Again, Tomorrow

September 17, 2009
by Randi Schmelzer

IMPACT: In the late ’90s, Silicon Valley-based TiVo pioneered digital video recorders—TV devices that allow viewers to record programs on an internal hard disk. Because viewers can “pause” live TV, “rewind” just-viewed footage, and entirely skip over annoying commercials, the technology terrified the advertising industry when it was first introduced, creating a “death-of-the-30-second-spot” hysteria that lasted for years. It also forced radical thinking in how commerce communicates to the rest of us. The stampede of marketing money now pouring into social networking, cell phones, and the like is a direct descendant of TiVo’s challenge to the media status quo. “DVRs slapped marketers between the eyes,” says Paul Rand, global chief development and innovation officer at Ketchum Communications. “They underlined the fact that how you reached consumers was changing.” Now a “how-did-we-ever-live-without-it?” staple in more than 12 million American homes, TiVo has achieved the ultimate in American pop culture: It has become a verb, as in “I’ll TiVo Heroes and watch it over the weekend.”

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