TiVo Teams With Yahoo!

Users can now order shows on Web site
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Yahoo! and TiVo have partnered to integrate TiVo's online scheduling features with Yahoo! TV. This will give users the ability to program their TiVos remotely via the Yahoo! TV Web site.

TiVo subscribers who have a TiVo Series 2 box and a standard Yahoo! user ID can begin using the service as of Nov. 7. A bar on top of the Yahoo! TV listings will allow users to click through to record a show on their TiVo from any computer.

“This is part of an effort to make people feel like TiVo is even more ubiquitous, to extend its capabilities beyond the living room,” says a TiVo spokesperson.

TiVo previously had the functionality itself, because users could record remotely via TiVo's Web site. But TiVo says the application on Yahoo! is more sophisticated functionally and more user-friendly.

No money will actually change hands in the deal, according to people familiar with it, but there will be cross-promotional opportunities, including TiVo's presence elsewhere within the Yahoo! Web sites.

Visibility For Both

The thinking behind the pact is that the arrangement makes sense for the two parties because TiVo gets visibility with a large audience and Yahoo! gets visibility with a targeted audience.

The deal does not preclude Yahoo!, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Internet company, from pursuing similar deals with other digital-video-recorder (DVR) providers, because the agreement does not carry an exclusivity clause.

The agreement between the two parties will evolve later this year when TiVo rolls out a new, larger broadband platform it unveiled in January at the Consumer Electronics Show. As part of the platform, users will be able to access Yahoo! traffic and weather information, as well as Yahoo! Photos, a photo-sharing technology application.

The move for the Alviso, Calif.-based TiVo comes as it works to stand out in an increasingly competitive environment.

The company's partnership with DirecTV will expire by 2007; it is an arrangement that has brought TiVo as many as two-thirds of its 3.6 million subscribers.

Cutting Deals

With cable operators now striking deals with DVR manufacturers to produce competing technology, TiVo has cut deals of its own, as it did with Comcast, which will start using set-top boxes with TiVo technology next year. TiVo also reduced the price of its boxes to $50 as it looks to aggressively market to retail.

The new pact will be trumpeted as a boon for customers, but just as important are the marketing opportunities it will provide. The Yahoo! deal is another way for TiVo to differentiate itself from the generic DVRs on the market.

The move is the latest in an ambitious strategy for Yahoo! since the hiring of Lloyd Braun as head of its Media Group in November of last year. Yahoo! has aired some network television shows, as it did this fall with The WB show Supernatural, which it ran for a week prior to the show's Sept. 13 network debut.

It also airs clips from television show DVDs and previews from selected upcoming programming (HBO's Extras, for example). Despite these various projects, the buzz throughout the industry is that Yahoo!'s blueprint for being a part of the TV landscape is still a work in progress.

Meanwhile, the move to air episodes of current shows online is becoming less of a rarity.

Last week, CBS.com became the latest destination for online viewing of current programming. The network began airing three episodes of freshman drama Threshold during the month of November.

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