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TiVo records change at top

Rogers takes reins as vet Ramsay steps down

The tech guy’s out and the media player is in at TiVo.

Sending a clear message that the future of its company is in deals similar to the one it recently signed with Comcast, TiVo has tapped the architect of that pact, vice chairman and former NBC Cable topper Tom Rogers, as its CEO and prexy.

He replaces Mike Ramsay, who has led TiVo since it was founded in 1997 and announced in January that he would step aside. Ramsay has a background in Silicon Valley tech companies and, according to insiders, sometimes clashed with Rogers over whether the company should focus more on improving its technology or on partnerships.

Rogers has been extraordinarily active in the usually titular role of vice chairman, taking charge of negotiations with Comcast and other potential partners after former prexy Marty Yudkovitz, who had previously headed up that effort, stepped aside.

Exec finalized a deal for Comcast to offer TiVo service as a premium add-on to its own digital video recorder, as well as use its technology to serve ads to DVR users. Pact, signed in February, is credited with saving TiVo from possible extinction as sales of its own product have stagnated and DirecTV, which accounts for about two-thirds of TiVo sales, will soon switch to its own generic offering.

More cable deals

With Rogers in charge, TiVo’s board is hoping it can sign more distribution deals with cable operators. It also wants to expand the reach of its nascent advertising network, which will deliver fresh ads to users watching recorded TV programs, beyond current partners Comcast and DirecTV.

“The board considered it important to pick somebody who could strike partnerships of strategic value and better market the TiVo product,” Rogers told Daily Variety. “I’ve spent a fair amount of time developing new businesses at the interface of media and technology and helping companies in transition move to another level.”

TiVo will operate for the time being without a chairman, as Ramsay is ankling his post atop the board. Rogers said his experience in the company gave Ramsay the confidence to ankle as chairman, but his departure may be a further sign of a split between the two execs. Ramsay will remain on the TiVo board.

Rogers was known for being particularly interested in big-picture technology issues in his previous tenure at media companies. While at NBC, he was involved in the creation of CNBC and, in partnership with Microsoft, MSNBC and focused on new outlets like the Internet and video-on-demand. He also focused on expanding properties online in his most recent post as chairman and CEO of mag company Primedia.

He first joined the TiVo board in 1999 when he headed up NBC’s investment in the company. After leaving when he ankled NBC, Rogers re-joined in 2003 and last year took the role of vice chairman and began heading up partnerships.

TiVo shares closed up 3% Monday at $6.98.

(John Dempsey in New York contributed to this report.)

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