Rogers Charts TiVo Transition

Jul 11, 2005  •  Post A Comment

As Tom Rogers takes the reins of digital video recording software maker TiVo as president and CEO, he assumes control of a company caught between what it used to be and what it wants to be.

“I recognize [that TiVo faces] a lot of challenges and risks,” Mr. Rogers said in a late June interview with TelevisionWeek. “What I hope to do is bring it out from being a consumer electronics company into something that has a nice business selling consumer electronics and selling subscriptions.”

Mr. Rogers, already TiVo’s vice chairman, late last month was tapped to fill two slots that had been vacant since earlier this year. As CEO, Mr. Rogers replaces Michael Ramsay, who will continue to serve as TiVo’s chairman. As president, Mr. Rogers replaces Martin Yudkovitz, who resigned in February.

Mr. Rogers’ top priorities: Continue to build TiVo’s retail business to put more DVRs in households; ink deals with phone companies offering video services and with multiple system operators to deploy TiVo’s technology in cable DVRs; and build an advertising business that takes into consideration how TiVo customers view television.

“I hope other businesses can be developed, such as an advertising business,” Mr. Rogers said. “TiVo is the only DVR to create an opportunity for advertising and marketing approaches, and as the number of homes increase, that business opportunity increases.”

It’s a tall order, but by most accounts TiVo has the wind at its back these days.

That wasn’t always the case, however. Six months ago TiVo was being left for dead as a series of management changes compounded worry among investors that TiVo’s main source of subscriber growth, satellite giant DirecTV, was stepping back from its partnership with the company to rely more on DVR software from NDS Group, a company that, like DirecTV, is controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Then TiVo struck a pivotal deal in March with cable giant Comcast to deploy TiVo software in a line of DVR-equipped cable set-top boxes.

The deal immediately settled questions about TiVo’s long-term viability and appears to have shifted management’s focus from simply surviving to determining how the company plans to make the TiVo name ubiquitous when it comes to DVR technology.

A key element of realizing that dream for the company will be striking similar deals with other cable operators, Mr. Rogers said. Though he indicated that no deal is being announced soon, he said the Comcast transaction has triggered conversations with other cable operators that likewise want to explore the opportunities that might exist for TiVo technology to marry marketing and advertising opportunities with the new way that DVRs are allowing people to watch television.

To that end, Mr. Rogers said, a key strategy will be to increase the number of retail sales of TiVo boxes.