TiVo Sets Sights on Broadband Video

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Digital video recorder pioneer TiVo today announced a wide range of content partnerships and new capabilities centered around broadband video, offering subscribers new content options and capabilities now found in other DVR solutions. With its new broadband video strategy, TiVo intends to differentiate itself from the ever-more-crowded field of digital video recorders and video on demand capabilities by enabling consumers to easily integrate Internet-based video options into their television viewing habits.

“For more than 10 years, people have talked about the TV and Internet coming together,” said TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers, in a statement. “The dramatic expansion of video options is being driven by the amount of video now available via the power of broadband distribution. Not a day goes by without an announcement about some studio, network, programmer, or Internet company providing yet even more video content online. TiVo provides the only approach that brings it all, broadcast, cable, broadband, together into a seamless experience for the viewer. TiVo is the first to provide one holistic viewing experience where you’ll be able to find what you want, when you want it, no matter where it comes from.”

First—and perhaps most predictably—TiVo is expanding its TiVoCast service with content from CBS Interactive, Forbes, Reuters,dLife, Plum TV, and Nano. Offerings will include original consult from CBS’s online sites (including CBS News, Sportsline, and the broadband channel innertube). The new programming will be available to subscribers alongside existing TiVoCast partners like the NBA, NBA, The New York Times, and Cnet.

Second, TiVo plans to roll out a new Home Movie Service early in 2007. which enables friends and families to create private channels for sharing home videos and photos via the Internet. Developed in partnership with One True Media, users upload their video and photos to One True Media, which then distributes them via the Internet to other selected TiVo subscribers; once invited to a channel, users can set up a Season Pass recording which ensures that all new video and photos from the channel’s creator are automatically downloaded and stored within the TiVo for convenient viewing. The Home Movie Service will be available for TiVo Series 2 and Series 3 boxes wit broadband connections; receiving home movies will be free, but setting up a channel with One True Media will cost $3.99 a month.

Third, TiVo announced TiVo Desktop Plus 2.4 will enable users to transfer broadband video—in formats like QuickTime, Windows Media, and MPEG-4—to their TiVo set-top boxes for viewing on their television set. The new transcoding feature will apparently be available to TiVo Series2 boxes which share a home network with a PC running the TiVo Desktop software and enable users to watch video; the idea is that users who enjoy non-protected video available on the Internet (including video podcasts, user-generated content, some music videos, etc.) can seamlessly transfer that video from their PC to their TiVo for viewing. TiVo Desktop Plus 2.4 will be a free upgrade for users who purchased version 2.3; otherwise, it will cost $24.95 when it’s available.

Not enough? TiVo also plans to introduce a new unified search feature next year, which enables users to seamlessly search across broadcast, cable, and broadband video sources available via their TiVo system, and has partnered with International Creative Management (ICM) to offer GuruGuides beginning next year. GuruGuides will offer TV show and film recommendations personally selected by well-known actors, directors, and artists, with the option for users to automatically download or record the material on their TiVo. The partnership will be the first artist-embedded programming service offered on the Video, and celebrities will have a designated area in the TiVo service to make personalized recommendations for TV shows, movies, and downloadable content—and, of course, any news about themselves, their causes, and their activities they want to share. GuruGuides will be available to Series2 and Series3 owners at no additional charge.

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