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Replay TV Fast Forwards Promos, Distribution

5/23/2003 08:56:00 AM Eastern

New York - Strengthened by its acquisition by D&M Holdings the formerly cash-strapped Replay TV plans to ramp up production, resume national TV advertising, and expand its distribution to all RadioShack stores.

The PVR maker is also adding more networking features to its standalone PVR, citing the installed base of home networks in 68 percent of the home of current Replay users.

The TV campaign, consisting of 60-second cable-network spots from August through March, will be part of a more than $2 million promotion program, said Jim Hollingsworth, president of D&M's Replay TV Products. Beginning Father's Day, the program will include radio promotions in the top 20 radio markets in which DJs give away Replay PVRs. On top of that, Replay-hired personnel will conduct in-store demos beginning in August.

In contrast, 'during the past two years, we've done some basic on-line ads and promotions and, during last year's Christmas selling season, radio promotions [involving product giveaways],' Hollingstworth noted.

The week before Fathers' Day, Replay's PVRs will appear in RadioShack's 5,500 company-owned stores, expanding Replay's distribution to 7,000 storefronts, Hollingsworth said. RadioShack's 1,500 franchised stores also have the opportunity to stock the product, he added.

Replay's current dealers include Circuit City, Best Buy, Tweeter, Ultimate, Good Guys, Magnolia, and independent AV specialists.

Replay's 5000 series units will be RadioShack's first PVR, and although Replay doesn't have exclusivity, 'we believe we'll be the only one [in RadioShack],' Hollingsworth said.

New network upgrades will be included as a running change to the 5000 series and is available as a download to existing 5000 series owners. The 5000 already sports an Ethernet port and the ability to stream programming from one Replay PVR in the house to another. With the software upgrade, Replay is adding four more features, most of them network-oriented. The features are:

-Network recording, which enables networked PVRs to share recording responsibilities. For example, if a consumer programs one unit to record a program during a time slot when another program has already been scheduled for recording, the second PVR will take over the recording responsibility. Likewise, if a consumer programs one unit to record a program but its disk is full, the second PVR will make the recording.

-Network pause and resume, enabling the user to pause a program on one unit, turn the unit off, and resume viewing on another unit.

-First-run recording, which eliminates the recording of reruns. Users who program the device to record an entire season's episodes of Friends, for example, won't inadvertently record reruns of one or more of those episodes.

-Recording priority, which reduces the number of programming steps when a consumer goes to record a program during a time slot in which the machine was already programmed to record another program.

In other Replay developments, D&M executive Tom McCarthy said Replay's technology 'would be spread throughout D&M,' but he declined to say which brands would take advantage of the potential. He did say D&M won't simply put the Denon, Marantz, Escient or McIntosh names on an existing Replay product. He called those brands 'premium brands,' and he called Replay 'a premium play, although in the mass market.'

McCarthy also said Replay's PVR continues to include the commercial-skip and Internet-sharing features that led media companies to sue Replay's former owner, SONICblue. He reiterated previous D&M statements that the suit is against SONICblue, which still exists as a legal entity with some assets. As for whether the features will be eliminated in future models, he said, 'It's too early to get our arms around this issue.' D&M closed on Replay's assets less than a month ago, he noted.

McCarthy is CTO of D&M's Digital Networks North America entity, under which Replay, Rio, and Escient operate with independent sales, marketing, and engineering staffs.

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