SAN JOSE, CA: Viewers watching CBS' current affairs show 60 Minutes
on March 18 could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching a
commercial for TiVo, the personal video recorder.
The 12-minute piece, fronted by Mike Wallace, looked at the benefits of
owning the digital VCR, which can be programmed to record material on a
regular basis and on multiple channels simultaneously. Rivals, such as
Microsoft's Ultimate TV and Replay TV, were barely mentioned in the
segment, produced by Jay Kernis.
It also featured a family, provided by TiVo, who talked at length about
why they liked the product so much. Somewhat ironically, the absence of
advertising was a major reason.
The report was so glowing that the firm's stock rose 27% on Monday, and
in-house senior PR manager Rebecca Baer claims the customer care lines
were ablaze with potential subscribers.
The piece was a long time in gestation - Baer pitched 60 Minutes to no
avail a year ago. But when The New York Times Magazine did a cover story
on the subject in August, producers got back in touch. TiVo's in-house
team of two worked closely with Blanc & Otus to iron out potentially
negative issues the CBS show might have covered, such as privacy
concerns. TiVo CEO Mike Ramsay and chief technology officer James Barton
responded by telling viewers all data was consumer-protected from
Baer said that PR and marketing had helped move TiVo from a product for
early adopters into the mainstream.
The shareholders will certainly be happy. These include NBC, Disney and
AOL Time Warner. Oh, and CBS.