HD televisions dominated holiday gift buying promotions last year, and while high-def sets still rank high on wish lists, ’04 seems to be the year of the DVR. That’s mainly because DVRs are gaining traction thanks to the growing number of operators deploying the service. For the 1st time, S-A designed a holiday DVR and HD promotional kit that was sent to MSOs last week. It includes holiday photos (i.e., an Explorer DVR under the tree), promotional ideas and a direct mail piece. Promotional ideas from S-A include having ops sell prepaid gift cards for a year’s worth of DVR service. "We want to get the idea out that you can give the gift of DVR and still wrap it up and put something under the tree," an S-A exec says. "We’ve done press and affiliate kits before, but this is something new where it’s specific to the holidays and includes photos, Web site, direct mail and pitch media. We want to be more of a partner with our customers and help in PR and marketing." S-A isn’t alone in pitching the pre-paid DVR service idea. TiVo is letting consumer pre- purchase 3, 6 and 12 months of service. In addition to its Series 2 DVR, TiVo will be pushing the new Humax DVR/DVD recorder by offering a $100 rebate that puts the cost at $399. "We find that with cable, it’s still limited as to where you can get a DVR," a TiVo exec says. "One of the other drawbacks is you have to upgrade to digital cable. We think we have a much better offering." Cable will have to counter that message, but even so, TiVo’s marketing (which include free TiVo giveaways on the "Dr Phil" and "Ellen" shows next month) should help consumers better grasp what a DVR is-which cable operators could use to their advantage. Another DVR player in the game is Motorola, which will continue the NFL-flavored DVR/HD campaign it launched in Sept. In addition to TV spots and print ads, the campaign includes community events. Broncos kicker Jason Elam is scheduled to visit an Omaha retailer Tues to promote Cox’s DVR and HD offerings. Comcast will market its Moto DVR deployments during the holidays. While cable promotions tend to vary by market, CTAM’s "Only Cable Can" initiative has one with Sony that includes 0 down/0% financing for 18 months on an HD set through Jan. — Dishheads: Not to be outdone, DirecTV is touting TiVo receivers through Feb 28. The promo for new customers features a $49 TiVo DVR receiver and a free standard 3-room system with free installation. TV spots rolled out Nov 8, the 1st time DirecTV aired national DVR commercials.