Set-top personal video recorders, marketed by Replay and rival TiVo, are being positioned as allowing consumers to "time-shift" TV viewing. The PVRs record programming on a hard drive instead of videotape and track viewing habits through a sophisticated interface.
Replay has marketed its $699-to-$1,499 PVRs since April directly through the Internet and a toll-free number, supported via print ads by agency USWeb/CKS, San Francisco. It is set to unleash more print and Internet ads and its first TV spots, said to focus on people having the freedom and power to control TV without tapes or hassles.
Replay's tagline: "Prime time. Anytime." Radio spots are also planned.
The TV spots will educate consumers about the benefits of being able to watch TV on their own schedules, said Replay Marketing Programs Manager Ann Holland.
Replay rival TiVo will launch a campaign with partner Philips Electronics to market the Philips Personal TV Receiver with TiVo Personal Television Service. Unlike Replay, TiVo charges a monthly fee for service access; Philips will get a cut of subscription fees.
Print, online, radio and TV ads will break by late September via Campbell-Ewald, Los Angeles. The creative depicts humorous, and somewhat exaggerated, lifestyle scenarios in which a consumer would benefit from the service, said Lisa Varni, TiVo marketing director.
Philips also plans a 30-minute infomercial via Tyee, Portland, Ore., that will present an in-depth look at the product.
Ms. Varni declined comment on TiVo's marketing budget, citing the quiet period following the company's July filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of stock that seeks to raise at least $80 million.
TiVo's investors include Philips, America Online, CBS, NBC and Disney, which is hedging its bets with the stake in Replay.
Replay devices will be made by Panasonic; another Matsushita unit also is an investor.
KEY SELLING POINT
Replay and TiVo said their ability to track viewer preferences is a key selling point for advertisers in search of more effective ways to target consumers.
Forrester Research projects PVR unit sales could reach 80,000 by yearend and that 14 million people will own the devices by 2004.
Replay has been criticized for the skip-ahead button on its remote control, which advances recorded programming 30 seconds, exactly the length of most TV spots. Replay has recently accelerated efforts with advertisers and currently plans to launch Replay Zones, TV portals that would be leased or rented by advertisers and content providers to promote products, services, programming and electronic commerce.
But another storm is brewing in the form of the Advanced Television Copyright Coalition, a group backed by Disney, CBS, Time Warner and other powerful media companies that, ironically, have partnered with TiVo and Replay.
The coalition wants PVR marketers to obtain licenses and pay fees to use TV programming on their services. The parties are hoping to reach an agreement,