This Tuesday, TiVo Inc. (www.tivo.com; Alviso, CA) said it would expand its service to bring Internet video to TV sets via its broadband-attached DVRs. With the explosion of amateur Web video clips and - not to mention professional segments made for the Internet - broadcasters and TiVo have wrestled with ways to deliver this contents.
Our Display Daily of October 19 reported Time Warner Cable’s launch of "Quick Clips," which, on demand, integrates short-form Internet video with scheduled programs. TiVo’s announcement, part of a rush to offer TV-viewing options for Internet video, has made the landscape more complex but the options more compelling.
TiVo was among the first to offer unique on-demand content sources to differentiate itself from DVR services offered by cable operators. Programmers including iVillage, Heavy.com, The New York Times, CNET, and Rocketboom have agreed to provide MPEG2 programming for download to an installed base of 500K broadband-connected TiVo recorders.
This week’s announcement reveals a new series of programming deals with media companies - including CBS Interactive, Reuters Group and Forbes - to provide shows directly to the TiVo devices. Moredeals are anticipated as TiVo strives to compete on Web content.
In yet another approach, TiVo stated plans to introduce software that will allow users to watch a much wider range of Web video by first downloading it to a computer on a home network. The $24.95 software package will play videos in MPEG4, QuickTime and Windows Media formats, with content to include most video podcasts and some clips offered by video sites Google Video and Revver.
The system will not play videos that have copy protection, like downloadable movies sold by major studios. Nor will it play video using Adobe Flash , commonly used to distribute Web video from sites such as YouTube.
TiVo also said it would introduce a new $4-a-month Home Movies Service offered by One True Media that will allow users to upload home movies and have them sent to the TiVo recorders of friends and relatives. Receiving the videos is free. These services are promised by early next year.
TiVo said the broader vision is to let people use a single method to discover both programs available over TV networks and those on the Internet. In its quest, the line between Internet content and TV content is becoming increasingly blurred. We’ll see if these approaches lead to the “convergence” of the PC and TV that many people have hoped for.