TiVo to Offer Tighter Rein on Children’s Viewing – New York Times

kid tivos

TiVo to Offer Tighter Rein on Children’s Viewing – New York Times Well tomorrow’s big announcement from TiVo is more than likely to be, as Gear Live scooped, a new initiative towards a concept known as kidzone, a service that, according to the New York Times, lets its video recorders limit children to watching shows approved by one of two groups promoting family programming.

From the New York Times:

“Under the TiVo plan, parents will be able to designate ratings issued by one of two groups — Common Sense Media or the Parents Television Council.

Common Sense Media was formed in 2003 with backers including Charles R. Schwab, the brokerage company executive, and Philip F. Anschutz, the billionaire investor; the Parents Television Council, formed in 1995, is headed by L. Brent Bozell III, a conservative commentator.

The new TiVo service will let children watch only programs the designated group deems appropriate for the age range specified by the parent. In addition, parents can automatically record programs designated by the groups as especially worthwhile.”

TiVo’s software, called KidZone, will be made available without additional charge in June to the 1.4 million users of TiVo’s stand-alone set-top boxes.

Although this in some ways is a let down to those of us who were hoping for bigger news (TiVo Series 3, subscription only pricing model, Netflix deal, major partnership, etc.), it is still really important. As a father of four kids, what they watch has increasingly been on my mind lately. Personally I try to limit much of what they watch to PBS (my little sproutlets) but inevitably the Cartoon Network ends up on and I find myself questioning what they are watching.

Having a kidzone filtered lineup of programming seems to make sense. And although it’s not as sexy as high definition TV, what our kids end up watching and filling their minds with very much could be far, far more important. If this is, as the New York Times is reporting, tomorrow’s big announcement, I’m looking forward to hearing more about it and as much as I was looking for something more tech centered, I may find myself, as a father, just as excited about their new technology.

My more thought out response to this new announcement today can be read here.

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  1. neekoh says:

    ugh. but it would have been soooooo much better if it was downloadable movies stored on TiVo.

  2. Dave Zatz says:

    I’m not a parent, and this doesn’t excite me. If it moves boxes though, it’s good for TiVo. The one person I know who might appreciate this type of service would never give up his DirecTV Sunday Ticket to get a stand-alone TiVo in the house. Guess we’ll find out more in 4.5 hours!

  3. While this is not another geek-toy-of-the-week (with questionable utility), you cannot deny that our society NEEDS this and that parents WANT it.

  4. Dave Zatz says:

    Some parents may want it… enough to justify a relationship with a group many don’t trust?

    I asked four parents (three dads, one mom) here at work how they felt about this service. None said they’d be interested in switching to TiVo to get it and two were skeptical about where the suggestions were coming from. One currently blocks channels (MTV) and content (SC) via his DishDVR.

  5. That’s the big announcement? Talk about weaksauce.

    I know nothing of Common Sense Media but the PTC just plain sucks, this one tiny group is responsible for 99.8% of all FCC complaints and in effect controls what all of the U.S. is allowed to watch on broadcast TV or listen to on the radio.

    At least this service seems to aim to put the control in the hands of individual parents, rather than have the PTC decide (more than they already do anyways) still this seems like a problem in search of a solution, the TiVo Parental controls are already effective at making sure that my kids don’t watch shows they shouldn’t like Family Guy or South Park.

    I can’t help but be highly skeptical of anything that the PTC is involved in, From my perspective TiVo mighty as well have announced a new partnership with Macrovision or the MPAA, I don’t even need to know what it’s about to know that it’s not something that I’m going to like.

    Oh and information is king, as a parent I can certianly tell you that society DOES NOT need anything like this, even without TiVo’s parental controls I’d still be able to control what my kids (one 8, one 12) watch because I’m aware of what they watch. The parental controls just make the temptation easier for them to resist.