Rogers: TiVo can unite industry

Exec says marketers, cablers, nets, advertisers will benefit

BANFF, ALBERTA -- Unifying an industry takes some doing, and TiVo has come pretty close, president and CEO Tom Rogers said Tuesday.

Rogers knows his digital set-top box is an advertiser's worst nightmare for allowing viewers to skip ads. He knows cable operators see TiVo showing up their generic DVRs as mere program recorders, or exposing their lack of on-demand content.

"TiVo is the one box cablers don't want you to have," he said while attending the Banff World Television Festival.

And TV networks, as sellers of advertising, see TiVo, as it combines broadband and broadcasting, diluting their brand as a key channel for TV programming and choice.

But now Rogers wants marketers, cable operators and networks to unite behind the solutions TiVo offers to what ails their industry during a time of incessant digital change and disruption.

TiVo is no longer just about revolutionizing audience control and choice, he said.

"We're about figuring how that contributes to a business model on the industry side, so there's something for them to participate in without feeling these issues will overwhelm them," Rogers said.

What's in it for ad agencies, networks and cable operators that work with TIVO?

"For cable, it's being able to have a stunning user experience that makes clear that finding what you want to watch and searching for anything out there can be as much fun as watching TV itself," Rogers insists.

For advertisers, TIVO offers new ways to market and sell products.

"Commercials aren't dead. You just have to find another way to present it (advertising) and express it. And we have a way to do that," Rogers said. 

With product placement, which TiVo ironically is blamed for introducing onto TV as viewers zap past commercials, Rogers sees his digital device allowing consumers to purchase products within minutes, rather than days or weeks after an initial TV impression.

For example, TiVo's pause menu allows viewers to identify an item of clothing they see onscreen and purchase it from a retailer.

"To be able to pause and immediately get the commercial information associated with the product, and transact immediately, not two weeks later, that's critical to the TiVo experience," Rogers said.

And for networks, TiVo can help them both sell advertising and attract viewers with a better user experience.

"They (networks) have to figure out how advertising can succeed for them, while the user experience is not one that overwhelms how a brand gets through as people watch TV and find TV shows differently," Rogers argued.

He added that, while TV industry players are playing with TiVo, they aren't playing fast enough.

"The issues that I'm pointing to are not just ones that we have said look where the world is going, we have a product for it," Rogers said.

"These trends, these waves, are really going to overwhelm existing media players to the extent they don't get ahead of it," he added.

The Banff World Television Festival wraps Wednesday.