NBC vet changes channels for TiVo gig

Exec to 'aggressively deploy' services

In an effort to help transform its digital video recording service into more of an entertainment platform, TiVo has recruited NBC executive Martin Yudkovitz as its newest prexy.

Ankling the peacock as exec veep, Yudkovitz replaces TiVo’s former prexy, Morgan Guenther, who ankled the post in January. Yudkovitz’s task will be to broker new partnerships with satellite and cable companies to “aggressively deploy” TiVo’s service.

TiVo said he will also focus on helping television networks and other content makers develop exclusive original forms of entertainment programming for its DVR service, as well as luring major advertisers as promotional sponsors in order to generate more revenue.

“TiVo intends to be a major player in the industry — providing compelling services for the TV viewer, networks and satellite and cable service providers,” said Mike Ramsay, CEO of TiVo. “Marty’s joining TiVo reinforces our commitment to realizing these goals, and his experience will help to build our business moving forward. His track record in developing creative partnerships that bridge network television with new distribution channels like cable and the Internet will be critically important to TiVo.”

The San Jose-based company’s product enables users to digitally record TV programming through a computer hard drive, as well as pause, fast forward and rewind live broadcasts.

TiVo is at a point where, although it has turned itself into a recognizable brand name, it has struggled to become profitable and grow beyond its paying subscriber base of 624,000. It’s currently seeking new ways to generate revenues to keep the service alive.

This comes as TiVo is facing growing competish from rivals such as Microsoft, RCA and Matsushita, as well as cable operators who are developing their own DVR services.

TiVo’s decision to hire Yudkovitz recruits him from one of the company’s biggest backers. Last year, NBC became the company’s third largest shareholder, behind AOL Time Warner and satcasting partner DirecTV. Discovery Communications. Sony and Philips also are investors.

In its last quarter, TiVo posted a net loss of $14.7 million and revenues of $13.7 million.

TiVo makes most of its money from subscribers who pay either $13 a month or a one-time fee of $300 to use the gadgets. It hopes to draw more revenue from advertising deals, licensing and selling specialized services to its customers.

Yudkovitz, who has spent nearly 20 years at the Peacock, is credited with having played a key role in launching news cablers CNBC and MSNBC, as well as MSNBC.com and the NBCi Internet portal.

He also led the business side of NBC’s broadcasts of the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

“TiVo has grown up much more as a Silicon Valley technology and marketing company than (as) a television-based company,” Ramsay said “We are trying to change that. Our brand is associated as much with TV entertainment, and we want to reinforce that.”

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