TiVo records a deal

Pact will channel ICM-repped celebs

NEW YORK — TiVo and talent are getting together.

A pact between ICM and the television service will see TiVo create celebrity channels for the agency’s clients, which could ultimately allow them to do everything from suggest programming to even hawking DVDs.

As-yet undetermined number of ICM-repped celebs will be given a place on the service in which they can recommend programming in both video and text formats.

Program may also ultimately allow celebs to sell downloadable video to users in a kind of on-demand model, TiVo execs said. While it’s unlikely that traditional network or studio content will be widely available, deal’s architects imagine that projects to which talent hold copyright will find a home on the service.

Customers will be able to navigate to celeb content from service’s main screen.

TiVo is also contemplating a function that could, in the future, allow users to order DVDs on which ICM talent appears.

Tara Maitra, TiVo’s veep and general manager of content services, called the service a “direct channel or platform” for talent. Revenue would be shared from sales as well as advertising within celeb videos. TiVo is not paying to license any of the celebrity content from ICM.

Deal gives TiVo another mode of expansion as it moves from a digital-recording model into a full-blown service that offers everything from broadband content to ad services. In this case, it comes with an irony: the company that made its name on digital recommendations will rely on real people to make suggestions.

Program builds in an additional layer of recommendation, allowing users to automatically record all the suggestions of a given celeb. TiVo has been seeking ways to offer more personalized recommendations so it can compete with cable DVRs, which have made inroads into company’s biz.

Earlier this year TiVo announced details of its content play — a broadband service that offers TiVo users video from the Web sites of such providers as the NBA, New York Times and iVillage.

For the percentery, pact continues efforts to grow its brand and content business. Many agencies now rep corporate brands and are jumping into film financing (Variety, Nov. 5).

ICM doesn’t rep corporate brands, but it does seek deals for its talent with brands, and execs at the branded-entertainment division say they think this gives stars yet another chance at exposure beyond traditional deals.

“Some artists will embrace it, some won’t embrace it as fully,” said ICM’s Global Branded Entertainment chief Lori Sale. “What’s important is that as an agency we have the dialogue about all the opportunities and determine the best places and structure to interact with artists.”

In some cases it imagines branding celebrities in an area for which they’re known; sports recommendations from Tom Arnold were offered as an example.

TiVo said it is in discussions with other talent reps to broaden its celeb content.

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