All Things D: Tom Rogers, TiVo CEO

Illustration for article titled All Things D: Tom Rogers, TiVo CEO

Kara Swisher is inteviewing Tom Rogers, CEO of TiVo (and CEO with the best pirate name).


Kara: Why not TiVo tech in TVs, powering everything?
Rogers: Biggest reason is that TVs already have tiny margins. Building them into TVs makes it hard to drive the same pricing. What we are finding is that the TV world is extremely commoditized so they need to do things to differentiate with things like ease of use, and those things are bringing us back front and center.

Kara: How do you move away from the rep of a content thief?

Roger: We got around it by saying that no matter what TiVo does, fast forwarding through commercials is here to stay. They have to deal with it. No way to turn the clock back on this. They need to figure out an ad model that works. Passive watching isn't going to work against the measurability of the web medium. So that's what we're working on. Ads in menus, ads at the end of the show or doing pause. Somehow you have to get them to click into and measure an ad.

Rogers: Do something to catch someone's eye. Maybe at the end of the show, which is effective because there's no interruption. Not everyone will watch your ad, but no one really did before. People changed their channels, went to the kitchen, and it was a lie. We track it by seconds, and it's astounding the difference between what people thought watchers were doing with ads.

The broadcast industry has to say that once everyone has a DVR, they have to figure out a way to advertise, otherwise they don't have a business model.

Rogers: The cable companies are interested in getting our software. The box still has a role, though, because we can talk to a customer without an intermediary. It helps us gain leverage on cable companies, because we don't have to pitch it to them. We're here as a customer option they can see and compare the boxes to.

Kara: How about the internet content?
Rogers says they do this.

Kara: And people want one box to do this all. But who can do that? You're not in a power position to do this.


Rogers: That's why the box is important to us.

Rogers also says that cable will be the ones he thinks will do the box, because they're already in the position of delivering so much. (Over both broadcast and IP, these days—B.L.)


Rogers also thinks that TV networks have to avoid the same pitfalls that the newspaper guys are dealing with now versus the web. They need to rethink their models now to avoid dark times.

Rogers on CableCard: There's no reason in the world why a cable company can't just mail it to you. The cable industry sends a guy out and goes into your house, and has a chance to sell you his box, but this hasn't been worked out in a regulatory rules yet.


Rogers on the TiVo/Comcast deal's delay so far: The actual development time was 18 months, plus 10 months of prep before that. It's not the box or software, it's the infrastructure that cable has that has not proven it can support advanced operations. (What's that mean? Cable has TV and IP, what else do you need?)

Rogers on more video sources: There isn't a video producing company that isn't talking to TiVo today. Amazon Unbox isn't exclusive.


Rogers on getting content around the house: Right now you need additional TiVo boxes, but we're looking at addressing this need.

[All Things D]



I was one of the first people to get a tivo back in 1999. Got a life time service contract. Upgraded it later to series 2.. got a 2nd one.. also got TiVo HD.. so I'm a huge fan and it has changed the way we watch tv. One of the best technology innovations in the last 10-20 years. But I have to say the company does some shady things to their customers:

One of my Tivos is connected to a tv I don't use very often. Went in the other day and the service had been canceled.. it won't let you do ANYTHING when there's no paying service. Not even watch live tv. So I go online to see what's up and my credit card had expired 40 days ago. Tivo has my email address. But they only informed me via the tvio - which I obviously had not turned on in over 40 days.

I pay the $6.95 past due balance online and try to reactivate my service. Oh.. now it's $9.95. The $6.95 is gone. Call them up.. "hey can you just reactive my account at the 6.95 rate? Simple mistake and no one let me know that it had expired." NOPE! There is NO WAY to do it she says. What about my loyal 9 years of being a customer and a tivo evangelist. That's nice but NO! Can I speak with a manager? I am the manager. (her name was Destiny.)

I know - it's off topic a bit. I know - it's only $3 - I know. But this was clearly malicious. This wasn't the first time the phone support manager had this conversation with a customer. She even told me that she knew that HER management wouldn't do anything about it. It's a known issue. If they can squeeze an extra $3 a month out of a % of their customers - it adds up.