What TiVo Can Tell You About Your Politics

TiVo, the original digital video recording system, has changed the way we watch television.

TiVo, the original digital video recording system, has changed the way we watch television. Only a decade into the DVR-era, we are all familiar with the "ba-bloop" sound TiVo makes and watching primetime in the morning. Now it appears TiVo may change the way campaigns advertise on TV as well. TiVo announced this week that it has come up with a way to break down the viewership of a particular show by the viewer’s party affiliation as well as by other demographics. TiVo believes the service, called "True Targets," is a revolution in reaching specific voters via television. "Imagine you are a media planner charged with building a schedule starting in September to reach either Democrats or Republicans. Targeting 'A25-54' is meaningless because it tells nothing about the kind of people you are trying to reach," Todd Juenger, TiVo's vice president in charge of the service, said in a company news release. "True Targets data however can significantly inform your planning." If this service proves accurate, it could have a significant effect on political advertising. In theory, the data could allow campaigns to specifically target where and when to air ads. If you are running in a Democratic primary and want to reach older, women voters, TiVo’s data would tell you which shows during which shows you want your ads to run and, perhaps more important, which shows would be a waste of your resources. In July, TiVo monitored partisan viewing habits, focusing primarily on MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor." Not a single Republican in the study watched a single second of "Countdown." Similarly, hardly any Democrats viewed "The O'Reilly Factor." OK, no shockers there. But TiVo also ranked which primetime entertainment shows Democrats and Republicans watch. For Democrats, the top shoes including TNT's "Saving Grace," "The Closer" and "Raising the Bar." For Republicans, Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch," Lifetime's "Army Wives" and Fox's "Mental" were all leading shows. There is some overlap, as Republicans also watched "Raising the Bar." Here's the full breakdown of primetime shows, Republicans first, then Democrats below. TiVo has developed these rankings, and shows' Republican and Democratic "index," by combining data collected from an opt-in panel and what it calls set-top-box viewing data, which it calls its Power Watch ratings service. All this information may be moot, though, as one of the great benefits of DVRing a show is fast-forwarding through the ads. <!--EndFragment--> Jeremy P. Jacobs is the staff writer at Politics. He can be reached at jjacobs@politicsmagazine.com.

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