Money may not buy you love, but it can apparently buy you an exclusive for TiVo’s March 2nd secret product, according to a leaked memo from Best Buy. TiVo blogger Dave Zatz received a copy of the memo from an anonymous source and and while we haven’t received confirmation that the memo is legit, it certainly sounds like big things are in store for TiVo over the next year.
If the memo is accurate, TiVo is about to receive a $20 million advertising windfall from Best Buy, in exchange for giving them a national retail exclusive on their secret product. To help put this into perspective, over the last 12 months TiVo spent a mere $4.7 million of their own money on advertising, so this could go a long way towards boosting subscriber acquisitions.
Here’s a complete copy of the memo,
“You Think You Know TiVo? You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet.
Inventing the DVR was just a warm up for TiVo. Some exciting things are now in the works over at TiVo, and Best Buy is along for the ride. TiVo is currently working on something major that will literally transform the way people watch TV, and Best Buy will be the only national retailer offering this unsurpassed entertainment experience. In fact, Best Buy and TiVo are taking their partnership to new levels in FY ’11, with Best Buy investing more than $20 million in marketing TiVo.
As you know, when we sell TiVo, our customers get a superior entertainment experience, with easy access to the world’s largest on-demand library. Selling this offering also creates amazing incremental margin opportunities for our stores. TiVo therefore represents a perfect example of a product that meets our goal of getting our customers connected and our goal of driving incremental margin, both which are a focus of this upcoming fiscal year.
On March 2, TiVo’s game-changing plans will be revealed, so stay tuned. You’ll want your sales associates to know all about this exciting news, so make sure they check out TiVo’s new eLearning on Learning Lounge, starting on March 3.”
After thinking about the memo, a couple of things really jump out at me. First off, I’m surprised at how excited Best Buy seems to be about the product announcement. While I expect that TiVo would want to generate as much hype as they could for their upcoming press conference, Best Buy wouldn’t need to do this for a memo that was never meant to go public. Yet, in their memo they use some pretty strong language to describe TiVo’s top secret product.
Terms like “something major”, “unsurpassed entertainment experience” and “transform the way people watch TV” would all suggest that TiVo’s announcement is going to be a bit more significant than the addition of a QWERTY remote or placeshifting abilities. While claiming that the DVR was just a “warmup” may be an impossible standard for TiVo to beat, this memo would suggest that something radical is in store for TiVo fans.
While it’s always possible that the memo could turn out to be an unsubstantiated TiVo rumor, some of Tom Roger’s comments from their last earnings call lend credibility to the leak. After being challenge by an analyst over TiVo’s subscriber defections, Rogers had bold words about the budding relationship between the two companies,
“We do think also that those trends can begin to be reversed. That is not something that will take effect in any meaningful way for this holiday season, because it’s dependent on some future development that we want to have for Best Buy before they really light up their promotion and marketing undertakings. Once that’s in full swing, that too should begin to well reverse those trends in 2010, at least that’s what we are working toward.”
Giving Best Buy an exclusive could potentially backfire on TiVo by making them less attractive to other retailers, but $20 million in advertising would certainly go a long way towards jump starting subscriber acquisitions once again. If internet retailers like Amazon are still allowed to sell the new hardware, the extra marketing would more than pay for any strained relationships with companies like Radio Shack. If you also include the advertising that DirecTV is expected to do, once their product launches as well as any potential advertising that TiVo could see from Comcast (if their product ever actually goes national), TiVo could see their most significant subscriber gains in years.
While we won’t know how much of this is hype vs. reality until TiVo holds their press conference on March 2nd, Best Buy’s leaked memo certainly makes this something to watch live, instead of TiVoing the event.