Jets quarterback Tim Tebow on a film set at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. Tebow is the new spokesman for TiVo.(Photo: Todd Plitt, USA TODAY)
BROOKLYN -- TiVo is getting Tebowed.
The DVR pioneer, on
the comeback trail after losing subscribers in recent years, is turning
to the NFL's Tim Tebow to spread the company gospel. TiVo hired the
famous backup quarterback of the New York Jets as its brand ambassador -
and not just because of the similar sound to their names.
MORE: Tim Tebow has a girlfriend? TMZ says Jets QB is dating actress Camilla Belle (PHOTO)
name connection is cool, but I'm not sure that's much of a reason to
create a relationship like that," says TiVo CEO Tom Rogers, who admits
the genesis of the idea came from his teenage son, who mistakenly
thought a discussion he heard on the radio about Tebow was about TiVo.
MORE: NFL peers say Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez are most overrated players in league
"The more I thought about it, the more it worked on a number of levels."
makes the inevitable football comparisons. Passing? The new TiVo Stream
(accessory), lets you literally pass your recordings from a TiVo DVR to
an iPad. Navigating the field? TiVo boxes aim to help consumers
navigate the fragmented nature of television.
MORE: Tim Tebow prevails in trademarking 'Tebowing'
Tebow is no techie.
He doesn't lust after the next great thing, he admitted, while
shooting TV commercials for TiVo that are set to air nationally starting
Nov. 27. "I like having things easy, and that's something TiVo does for
But he does take his role of celebrity spokesman seriously.
Tebow pitches Nike, Jockey, Soul Headphones and FRS health drinks, but
he says he turns down way more endorsement opportunities than he
MORE: Tebow looking beyond football in interview with 'Vogue'
"I want people to believe ... I can honestly tell you with every product that I've endorsed I've used it and liked it."
What Tebow likes about TiVo: Because he spends a lot of time on airplanes, he relishes catching up on favorite shows Revenge and Castle. "Plus, TiVo learns me." He says he'll give the Showtime series Homeland a try based on a TiVo recommendation.
MORE: Tim Tebow won't rule out run for office
is adding a "Tim Tebow Zone" collection with recommendations of the
quarterback's favorite TV shows, movies and content aimed at kids. The
company is also donating up to $1 for each "like" on TiVo's official
Facebook page (up to $25,000) to the Tim Tebow Foundation for children
TiVo has to hope its relationship with Tebow works out
better for them than his has with the Jets so far. The team has a losing
record, and Tebow hasn't played a whole lot.
WATCH: Tim Tebow runs shirtless in the rain. In slow mo.
In the second
quarter of this year, TiVo reported a net loss of $27 million. But its
subscriber numbers are looking better, largely due to partnerships with
cable companies. TiVo has 2.7 million subscribers, up from 1.9 million
the year before but far from its peak of 4.4 million in early 2007.
still think TiVo is a one-dimensional product, a DVR," Rogers say. And
to be sure, DVRs remain a key part of the company's business at retail,
with models ranging from about $150 to $400, on top of service fees that
are typically $14.99 a month.
TiVo's top new retail offering,
TiVo Premiere XL4, has four TV tuners enabling you to record up to four
shows at once, with a recording capacity of 300 HD hours. Like other
recent TiVo boxes, it is tightly integrated with broadband content
available from such online providers as Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and
YouTube, along with the regular TV channels you watch.
But a big
portion of TiVo's strategy as a company is to forge strategic
relationships with cable operators around the world, with TiVo
essentially become the plumbing inside the operator's equipment. "What
they're doing right now - (and have been) trying to do things for years -
is insert themselves into the people who control the set-top box," says
Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg.
Rogers says the efforts are
paying off. He says TiVo has successfully signed 75% to 80% of the cable
companies in the U.S. and abroad that have reached a decision about
whose advanced television technologies to use.
TiVo remains a
solid brand. "Customers who have it, love it," says Ross Rubin,
principal analyst with Reticle Research. The problem is there aren't
enough of those customers.
That's where Tebow is being asked to
move the pile. "Tim Tebow has unbelievable recognition as an athlete, as
a young man, some of it controversial, yes," Rogers says. "But he has
an enormous following. He's talked about. He brings attention. One of
the things we want to accomplish here is having people take a look and
recognize that we are something to talk about ourselves."
should be arguing about isn't there a better way to watch television
and why are you satisfied with the box from your cable operator when it
doesn't begin to do justice to that $2,000 investment you made in a
beautiful high-definition television set. Let's get that controversy
going," Rogers says.
Tebow was non-committal about whether anyone
TiVo-ing an upcoming Jets game will see more of him on the field. "I'm
ready and willing to do whatever they ask me to do. I'm excited about
any opportunity that I'm given, and I want to make the most of those