Product purchase comes to TiVo — let the couch commerce begin!

This morning TiVo announced a new feature, product purchase.

As a kid, I used to dream about being able to order things from my TV with the push of a button. When I watched Happy Days, I wanted to be able to buy Fonzie’s motorbike — have it waiting for me on my doorstep the next morning. When I watched Battlestar Galactica (the original one), I wanted to be able to get the cool toys.

Well, we’re not quite there yet, but we’re closer. Previously, TiVo let you purchase movie tickets from your couch through our partnership with Fandango. We also let you use paid subscriptions to Rhapsody and Live 365 and One True Media. We also let you purchase and rent movies and TV shows from Amazon Unbox.

Now, when you’re watching Oprah and see the book she’s promoting, you can buy that book right from your couch, thanks to the new product purchase feature and our partnership with Amazon.

It’s out now. If you’re a broadband-connected Series2 or Series3 user, give this a try: TiVo Central -> Find Programs & Downloads -> Universal Swivel Search and then type in enough letters so you find “Oprah Winfrey” (Don’t get distracted by that entry for Oprah Noodlemantra, heh.) You’ll see the “If You Like This…” menu item, which leads to the “Related products at Amazon” item, showing some items you can now purchase online.

If you’ve previously used Amazon Unbox on TiVo and have linked your TiVo account to your Amazon account, you’re good to go. One-click users will get the item delivered as soon as they confirm. Otherwise, the item is added to your shopping cart for later purchase.

Our intention with this new feature is to make it easier for you to learn about and buy new items that are related to your favorite shows. At launch you’ll see related products for such shows as The Colbert Report, Burn Notice and Mad Men in addition to Oprah Winfrey. More shows are planned for the future, and we’ll also test Showcases to highlight different talk shows as well as new CD & DVD releases.

Maybe motorcycles and vacuum cleaners will arrive in the future, but for now this feature will let you buy books, CDs and DVDs.

One capability is to enhance existing commercials you watch. Suppose, for example, a commercial for a new album from your favorite band is airing. We could add a thumbs up icon to that commercial allowing you to buy that CD from Amazon with just a few clicks. All from the comfort of your couch.

Over on the TiVo Community forum, some outspoken members are concerned about the advertising on our product and that this feature would be intrusive. That’s not our intention at all. It’s in our best interest to make this a useful and compelling and fun feature, not something that would be annoying. Most of the time, you’ll need to seek out (via Showcases and Universal Swivel Search) the related items. You’ll also sometimes see mentions when a show is deleted — at the point where your asked if you want to keep the show or delete the show you just watched.

Depending on how this feature is received by our customers, we do want to explore additional ideas with you in the future. But for now, check out the example I described above, and let me know what you think.

(Our support article for Product Purchase is also available.)

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