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TiVo Signs NBC Universal For Viewer Research

Demand for such information is increasing as more people use DVRs that make it possible to skip commercials.

NBC Universal has become the first major TV broadcaster to sign up for TiVo's viewer research in a partnership that will help advertisers find better ways to reach television watchers.

The companies on Tuesday announced the multi-year deal, which also has NBCU's 14 television networks and 10 owned-and-operated stations selling TiVo interactive adverting products. Financial terms were not disclosed.

TiVo launched its research service about a year ago, offering to sell second-by-second ratings of programs and commercials, based on the TV-watching habits of subscribers of the company's digital video recorders, or DVRs. TiVo this month added demographic data, such as age, income, ethnicity and marital status.

TiVo's service competes with Nielsen Media Research, which has been a long-time source of TV research for advertisers. Demand for such information is increasing as more people use DVRs that make it possible to skip commercials. Part of the attraction of TiVo's anonymous data is the ability to see which groups of people are watching which commercials.

Networks run by NBCU, which is owned by General Electric, include NBC, Telemundo, and Bravo. Under the deal, all of the company's networks and its own-and-operated stations will sell TiVo's interactive tags, which display an advertiser's logo even when a person skips a commercial. Clicking on the tag delivers more information about the advertiser.

In announcing the deal with TiVo, NBCU said advertisers have been pressuring the company for more data that reflect the level of impact commercials have on TV viewers. "We've made a commitment to our advertisers to offer them better proof of performance and to help ensure their marketing messages resonate in today's media environment," Mike Pilot, president of NBCU sales and marketing, said in a statement. "This partnership allows us to provide clients with products and solutions to help them analyze, understand and adapt to the new ways consumers are watching television."

TiVo is building its research service at a time when it is under growing pressure from cable, satellite and telephone companies that sell DVRs to subscribers. Besides the ad-information market, TiVo has also been trying to increase the role its DVR plays in the home. Rather than have it only be a cable box, TiVo has introduced models that it's positioning as Internet hubs.

Last month, TiVo announced a deal with RealNetworks to offer the latter company's Rhapsody online music service through TiVo's broadband-connected DVR. TiVo's growing list of Web partners includes Amazon and Yahoo.

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