TiVo, Amazon and ‘V-Commerce’

TiVo and Amazon have teamed up to enable TiVo owners to buy products (from Amazon) featured in shows they watch. Even as users stop to buy products/things on the shows, TiVo will continue to record the program or will have recorded the program so the show can be resumed after the transaction.

Amazon already did this with its “FishBowl” show with Bill Maher (now defunct):

Each segment is selling something that you can buy on Amazon and that product is displayed under or near the viewer during the segment (sometimes that product changes dynamically during the segment depending on the conversation [e.g., a book, then a DVD]).

Some thoughts:

  • This has long been a fantasy for “interactive television”
  • TiVo has roughly 4 million subscribers, which is large yet tiny in the context of the overall TV audience
  • User experience is the key to making this a success (education is a part of that)
  • QVC and HSN (as well as direct response TV) has long been established so this isn’t a radically new model in one sense.

This is a great channel potentially for Amazon to expand and extend its reach. Eventually, however, the full Internet will be available “in the living room” through an IP-connected box or cable. So the question is: will seeing a product worn by a celebrity, etc. generate an “impulse” product purchase?

It depends and very much remains to be seen. But I would imagine that this offering will see some success on repeat or second viewings. In other words, I see the product, understand I can buy it and then go back and buy upon a second look. Social features can and should be integrated to allow for people to chat about products over the TV. However, TiVo doesn’t permit people to be watching the same show at the same time unless people are actually watching live TV.

This will be a very interesting experiment to see whether making shows “clickable” will drive product sales. My sense is that this initial trial will give way to something else that will be more successful.


Travel is another category this could be very good for but in a less impulse sort of way. I see a show on Thailand and decide I might like to go there. I might be able to sign up for travel alerts or emails about the place and from hotels or airlines that service Thailand, for example.


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