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TiVo Merges The Internet With TV

Customers with a TiVo Series 2 DVR connected to the Internet over broadband will have access to a movie ticket service, a Web radio network, and entertainment portal Yahoo.

TiVo Inc. on Thursday said it has partnered with Yahoo and others in rolling out a host of online services for subscribers of its digital video recorder, joining other companies in merging the Internet with TV.

Customers with a TiVo Series 2 DVR connected to the Internet over broadband will have access to services provided by partners Fandango, a movie ticket service; Web radio network Live365, and entertainment portal Yahoo.

The partnerships add a variety of services, including movie listings and tickets, Web radio, podcasts, viewing of shared photos, and local traffic and weather. The new features are included as part of the standard TiVo service.

TiVo is not the first to merge TV and the Internet. Microsoft, for example, announced in January a partnership with entertainment network MTV, a division of Viacom Inc., to develop programming that would be accessible through a PC running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005.

Blending TV with the Web has become possible by the fact that more than half of U.S. households have broadband connections, Joe Wilcox, analyst for JupiterResearch said.

"(As a result), we're seeing a lot more diversity in content distribution and crossover between TV content and online content," he said. "There's a lot of experimentation going on out there."

TiVo, which was the first to market with a digital video recorder, is struggling to remain relevant as cable operators and telephone companies start delivering similar capabilities in set-top boxes. JupiterResearch expects DVRs incorporated in those devices to dominate the market in a few years, whereas today, standalone DVRs, like TiVo's, dominate.

"TiVo has great software and a user interface, but it needs to think about the future and how it can differentiate," Wilcox said.

Providing online content from major entertainment portals like Yahoo is one way, but the company will also have to sign distribution deals with cable and satellite operators, and telephone companies planning to offer TV programming over the Internet, called IPTV.

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