Cause celebre: TiVo, ICM spotlight artist 'channels'

Programming as promotional tool

TiVo and ICM announced a partnership Monday that they said will create a first-of-its-kind, artist-driven programming service consisting of celebrity "channels" that can broadcast an artist's TV and film recommendations, original downloadable video content and personal messages about their favorite projects and causes.

For TiVo, the partnership marks its latest attempt to differentiate itself from its DVR competitors with new content, and for ICM, the alliance is seen as an innovative way for its artists to reach audiences in the digital age.

No money changed hands as part of the deal, which can potentially generate advertiser revenue for TiVo, ICM and the artists involved through sponsorship and promotional opportunities.

"This is a unique opportunity for our branded entertainment group to advise on the creation of a programming service that will cultivate new audiences for artists," ICM chairman and CEO Jeffrey Berg said. "As the digital-media landscape evolves, it is important for ICM to continue to work with companies such as TiVo and seek out new venues to showcase artists' work."

Lori Sale, head of global branded entertainment at ICM, said the new service, the latest in TiVo's Guru Guide recommendation series, will provide actors, directors, musicians and other personalities with "another vehicle so that their creative voices can be heard. This is about creating a new channel of distribution for our artists."

Sale said it will be up to the celebrities to program their channels the way they see fit. "It's like saying to an artist, 'Here's your own network; now what would you like to put on it?' The sky's the limit."

She said ICM expects to soon announce the first round of celebrities who have signed on to create their own channels. The new service will be available early next year under the Guru Guide section along with the Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated, Maxim, Seventeen and other magazine Guru Guides TiVo launched in the spring. It also will be accessible on TiVo's Web site.

"Our subscribers are among the country's savviest TV viewers, and now through this partnership with ICM, we've made them true Hollywood insiders," TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers said. "With ICM's broad base of artist relationships, TiVo's Celebrity Guru Guide recommendations are sure to become a favorite of our subscribers looking to discover new programming."

Celebrity Guru Guide recommendations will be available to all TiVo Series 2 and Series 3 broadband-connected subscribers at no additional cost as part of their regular service commitment, the companies said.
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