TiVo Links Up DVR with Yahoo

TiVo users will soon be able to schedule television programs to record directly from the Yahoo TV Web site, under a partnership announced Monday. Customers with a Series 2 TiVo and a Yahoo account can utilize the service immediately.

Previously, users had to go through the TiVo Web site in order to remotely schedule programs on their receivers. Benefits of the partnership will also extend to other areas of the TiVo service, including photos, traffic, and other Yahoo content that will soon be available directly from the TiVo interface.

"Working with Yahoo is another way for us to deliver the best way to watch television and give viewers control of the television experience," TiVo CEO Tom Rogers said.

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The service is part of the DVR maker's "Tahiti" initiative, which focuses on bringing online and traditional video content together for users, as well as providing options on where customers can view their recorded material.

To record a program, a user simply selects an option to "record to my TiVo box" from any Yahoo TV show page. The request would then be sent to the TiVo, and arrives within one or two hours if the unit is connected to a broadband network, or within 36 hours if TiVo must dial in for updates.

Yahoo says the deal fits in to its overall entertainment strategy well. "We are excited to further our mission of delivering what consumers want, when, how and where they want it," entertainment head David Katz said.

Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg, however, doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. "The fact that TiVo owners can program their units over the web isn't a really big deal, TiVo owners have been able to do that for quite some time," he said.

"As for the Yahoo services on TiVo? Who is this for. The market has told vendors time and time again that they are not interested in this functionality of their TVs," Gartenberg added.

But fellow Jupiter analyst Joe Wilcox notes the deal may be more about strategy than anything else. TiVo has struggled to find a balance with advertisers who see it as the enemy for enabling consumers to skip commercials, and an agreement with Yahoo opens the door to new types of ads.

At the same time, Yahoo could tap into the lucrative television advertising market. "Every single percent of revenue Yahoo! could pick up from advertisers would be significant, because so little ad money is spent online and so much on television," says Wilcox.

In addition, Yahoo has recently made a push to become a content destination by hiring video blogger Kevin Sites while rolling out a podcast directly and music service. The deal with TiVo gives Yahoo a new outlet to expose more consumers to its content offerings.

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