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TiVo Links YouTube to TV

12 Mar, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Digital video recording (DVR) pioneer TiVo Inc. March 12 said it has forged an agreement with Google Inc. subsidiary YouTube that would enable select TiVo subscribers to view videos from the video sharing site via a set-top box on their television.

Financial terms, including possible ad sharing, were not disclosed.

The deal is significant in that it marks a legitimate bridge across the great divide separating and delivering content from the Internet to the TV.

“Being able to make available YouTube videos … using one device, one remote and one interface is [a] major step,” said Tara Maitra, VP and GM of content services at TiVo.

Attempts heretofore to distribute content from the Web have been limited to the PC, including Amazon Unbox, CinemaNow, Movielink, Veoh and Apple iTunes. Exceptions such as Apple TV and Microsoft TV have had limited results.

YouTube video, which includes professional and user-generated content, will be available later this year only to broadband subscribers with a third series DVR.

“Convergence between the Internet and the TV has been going on for awhile and this is another step in that direction,” said Arvind Bhatia, media analyst with Sterne Agee Group in Dallas.

Analysts say the deal is a new way TiVo remains relevant at a time when time shifting entertainment, especially TV programming, escalates and cable operators inundate the market with DVR units for as little as $5 per month.

Phil Leigh, media analyst with Inside Digital Media in Tampa, Fla., said the deal is noteworthy despite the relative low number of broadband subscribers because users can navigate the videos with their TV remote.

Leigh, who owns a second series TiVo, said the unit's technological perks have kept him away from less expensive generic DVR devices offered by cable companies.

That said, the analyst admitted he wouldn't upgrade to a series three TiVo just for YouTube. He actually enjoys watching clips and TV programming on Hulu and Veoh.

“This agreement, if nothing else, demonstrates they have the technical inclination to do it,” he said.

Leigh doesn't anticipate studios and major content providers allowing their content to be repurposed on TV via TiVo due to conflicts with their own distribution vehicles or licensed third-party channels.

“Eventually they will do it, but I see conflicts in the short term,” he said.

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