Tebow & TiVo: Still a Match Made in DVR Heaven

When the Philadelphia Eagles confirmed that the team had signed quarterback Tim Tebow to a one-year contract, it marked the official beginning to Tebowmania in the City of Brotherly Love, matched with the question: “What in the world is [Eagles’ head coach] Chip Kelly thinking?”

After all, it had seemed that Tebow’s playing career was over. The Heisman winner captivated the nation in 2012 when he led the Denver Broncos to the playoffs and an unlikely postseason first-round victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, but followed that with a disastrous season with the New York Jets and an unsuccessful attempt to catch on with the New England Patriots in 2013. Tebow’s next stop was as a college football analyst with ESPN and its SEC Network.

Through all of those ups and downs, TiVo has been one of Tebow’s biggest fans, having signed him in November 2012 as a company “brand ambassador,” whereby the former NFL firstround draft pick helped launch a national ad and integrated social-media campaign touting all of the wonders of TiVo.

TiVo also offered a “Tim Tebow Zone,” highlighting his favorite shows, movies and recommended fare for kids from TV and the Web.

TiVo has remained loyal through it all, confirming last week that Tebow remains a brand ambassador.

And TiVo’s pretty excited about Tebow’s return to the NFL. Upon learning of the Eagles signing him on April 20, TiVo took to Twitter to express its glee, posting a pic of CEO Tom Rogers “Tebowing” (the act of kneeling on one knee and placing one’s elbow on the other knee that Tebow made famous after scoring plays and salting away wins), along with a message that the entire TiVo team is “jacked” for its brand ambassador.

— Jeff Baumgartner

Five Things to Know About Sean Bratches, ESPN’s Departing Ace

Everyone familiar with Sean Bratches, the ESPN executive vice president, sales and marketing, knows the huge achievements made by the sport giant’s distribution, marketing and ad sales teams during his 27-year tenure.

When he started as an affiliate-marketing account executive in 1998, there was only one ESPN. Well, there’s still only one ESPN, but it has lots of siblings (eight U.S. networks, WatchESPN, the SEC Network, etc.).

Even the ESPN HD push in 2003 helped ignite the high-definition wave that followed. He also led the sometimes testy talks that resulted in locking in long-term deals, starting with double-digit increases, including a milestone pact with Cox Communications in 2004.

Today, ESPN alone would cost consumers $36 a month if it were sold on an a la carte basis, MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson recently calculated.

The Wire wondered what some of his long-time colleagues at Disney and ESPN thought were things about Bratches that aren’t as well known but ought to be mentioned, now that he is transitioning toward whatever his next thing will be after he leaves the company at year’s end.

Here are five:
• He loves books about the United Kingdom’s World War II prime minister and quotes him often, including in his lower-case written note to colleagues that observed: “as winston churchill once said… ‘deserve victory…’ ”
• He enjoys a good old-fashioned Arnold Palmer.
• He and Turner Broadcasting System president DavidLevy played on the same high-school hockey team, in White Plains, N.Y., in the late 1970s.
• He prefers wearing no socks in nice weather.
• He is an avid fly fisherman who likes to chase false albacorein the waters of Long Island Sound.
— Kent Gibbons

If Mavs Bow Out, Cuban May Join ‘Tech Elder’ Trek

The self-proclaimed “tech elders” are making a pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., for an April 30 commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the commercial Internet.

But the presence of the highest-profile elder will likely depend on the success, or more to the point, lack of it, of the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team.

The “elders,” who have been arguing against Title II reclassification by the FCC, are an eclectic group, including John Perry Barlow, cyber rights activist and former Grateful Dead lyricist, and video pioneer, investment “shark” and colorful Mavs owner Mark Cuban.

There was some inside-the-Beltway chatter that Cuban might make an appearance at the commemoration of 20 years since the “decommissioning of the NSFNET backbone” [not to be confused with the 2013 decommissioning of the USS Enterprise.] Cuban would add some extra star power to the power of the commercial Internet. At press time, Dallas was down two games to none to the Houston Rockets. If Dallas can stage a comeback, Cuban may be otherwise engaged, but if not, he could make an appearance.

Asked about the prospects of a Cuban appearance, fellow elder and VoIP pioneer Daniel Berninger (Bell Labs, Free World Dialup, Vonage), told The Wire, “The odds makers are not optimistic about the Mavericks chances,” which would up the chances of his appearance in D.C. “[B]ut,” Berninger added generously, “I will be happy for Mark if his team proves them wrong.”

Berninger was ultimately philosophical: “The challenges ahead for restoring Internet Independence remain either way.” For the elders, independence means freedom from Title II. And Cuban’s attendance would likely mean no (NBA) Title II for the Mavs this year.
— John Eggerton