TiVo searching for one firm in consolidation of PR business

ALVISO, CA: Digital video recording (DVR) pioneer TiVo is embarking on the search for a single agency as it suffers two high-profile departures, a falling stock price, and fierce competition for the market it created.

ALVISO, CA: Digital video recording (DVR) pioneer TiVo is embarking on the search for a single agency as it suffers two high-profile departures, a falling stock price, and fierce competition for the market it created.

The company currently works with SutherlandGold Communications on product PR and OutCast Communications on corporate communications.

Kathryn Kelly, senior PR manager, said the decision to consolidate with one agency came from new CMO Matt Wisk, who joined in September.

SutherlandGold has worked with TiVo since 2002, while OutCast began its relationship about a year ago. Kelly did not disclose billings or which agencies she is considering, but did say she is looking at four firms, all of which she described as boutique agencies.

"We really want to stick with an agency that can offer that hands-on senior strategic counsel," she said.

While SutherlandGold will not directly participate in the review, Kelly said the agency's work speaks for itself.

OutCast partner Caryn Marooney said her agency has declined to participate.

The review comes as president Marty Yudkovitz announced his resignation, just two weeks after CEO Mike Ramsay did the same.

Competition in the DVR space has risen sharply as well. Cable company Comcast is rolling out its own DVR service, while DirecTV announced at the annual Consumer Electronics Show last month that it would unveil its own DVR later this year. DirecTV was previously one of TiVo's major partners.

Despite TiVo's best efforts to convince the media that the company is not in trouble, headlines such as "TiVo in turmoil" from the San Francisco Chronicle were commonplace after Yudkovitz's January 12 departure.

Kelly said the company wouldn't typically do media outreach concerning executive departures. But with the top two executives stepping down, TiVo put Yudkovitz, Ramsay, and board vice-chairman Tom Rogers on the phone with reporters, pointing out that Ramsay would stay on as CEO until his replacement is found.

"We know the perception on the outside looks bad," conceded Kelly. "There is so much speculation about TiVo's future."

By putting company executives in touch with the media, TiVo hoped to squelch speculation that potential deals with cable companies could be in jeopardy.

The company hopes to have a new agency started by March 1.

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