DVR Service Looks for Advertiser for Shows Riffing Off ‘The OC’ or ‘Lost’

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- TiVo is moving into the business of content creation via a partnership with Tad Low, the Emmy-winning creator of the “Pop-Up Video” series pioneered by cable channel VH-1.

One of the concepts Mr. Low’s firm, Manhattan-based multi-media company Spin the Bottle, is pitching to prospective advertisers is a wrap-up, modeled after a sports post-game show, that would provide color commentary about a popular network show and be available only to TiVo subscribers. The format of "Pop-Up Video" was to play older music videos and inject snarky comments or little-known facts about the artists.

A panel of experts -- ranging from TV and movie critics to fashion experts and fan-club leaders -- would watch the show together, then only minutes after viewing it, would move into a studio where Spin the Bottle would shoot a live-to-tape special show. No longer than ten minutes and only lightly edited, the new content would rest on TiVo servers and be available to customers who’ve selected the TiVo’d the show. Mr. Low described his new idea to a group of marketers, agency executives and top TiVo brass at a breakfast this morning held in New York City at the Rainbow Room.

Advertiser participation
Mr. Low envisions that, initially, TiVo’s content would be made for one of the service’s most recorded shows, which include “The OC,” “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives” and “American Idol.” Advertiser participation, according to Mr. Low, could range from sponsoring the show to more integrated arrangements in the panel itself.

“It depends on what advertiser or advertisers come on board,” he said. “We can customize it around the brand.” He’s particularly interested in working with marketers already advertising on whichever network airs the show for which he’s creating content, so that the connection between the actual episode and the TiVo-created content is strong.

One particular advertiser at the breakfast was intrigued by the concept.

“I think of Tad being the creative department of the future,” said Coca-Cola Co. Chief Marketing Officer Chuck Fruit, “being in the entertainment business, the engagement business -- particularly for products like ours where consumers don’t really care about the product specifics, like how many bubbles does it have. We grow our brands through affinity and relationships.”

Growing budgets
When asked how much of Coca-Cola’s media budget is currently earmarked for new media, Mr. Fruit said that while it was probably currently less than 5% in the U.S., “five years from now it’s likely to be 25%. . . . The delineation between different forms of media -- TV, print, digital media like TiVo -- will blur.”

Mr. Low hopes TV producers of shows like “The OC” or “Desperate Housewives” might be interested in providing TiVo with clips from just-viewed episodes that would enhance the appeal of the special content. “You’ve got a dedicated audience, people who like the show enough to TiVo it, why not give them more?” he asks rhetorically.

Discussions between Mr. Low and TiVo have been ongoing for several years but heated up only recently as TiVo’s broadband capabilities have become more robust. "Now, we just need an advertiser to jump on board," said Davina Kent, VP-advertising sales at TiVo.

Fandango partnership
Today, TiVo also announced a partnership with Fandango that allows its subscribers who have networked their TiVo to a broadband connection to view local movie show times and, through an e-commerce component, purchase a ticket to the show without leaving the couch. TiVo is working with movie studios to offer trailers of new releases on its Showcase platform and is likely to launch the service with a primary sponsor that the company expects to announce shortly. This opens the doors, TiVo executives told marketeres and agency chiefs today, to advertisers’ ability to add e-commerce components to their interactive TiVo advertising.

The services will be available to the 300,000 of TiVo’s 1.3 million stand-alone subscribers who’ve connected the DVR to broadband home networks.

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