Amazon Brings 'Unbox' Service to TiVo

TiVo and Amazon have entered into an agreement that would bring the online retailer's "Unbox" movie download service to the set-top boxes of TiVo customers in the near future.

Both the rental and purchase functions will be available to broadband-enabled TiVo boxes. Amazon is no doubt banking on Unbox on TiVo as a way to jumpstart its download business, which has seen a rocky start.

The initial launch of Unbox in September of last year was met by lackluster reviews and reports of service issues. Its incompatibility with the ubiquitous iPod has also likely prevented it from catching on with consumers.

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Amazon and TiVo are billing the service as the first to offer both recorded television content and broadband content in a single interface. Service activation would be done through Amazon.com, where the subscriber would enter information about their Series2 or 3 set-top boxes.

Television episodes and movie rental would be available for $1.99 USD, while movie purchases would range in price from $9.99 to $14.99 USD depending on the title. Purchases could also be downloaded to other devices as well for viewing elsewhere.

Once downloaded, the title would appear in the subscriber's "Now Playing" list just like any standard recorded show, TiVo said.

"TiVo is taking the best way to watch TV and making it the best way to get popular movies and television shows from major Hollywood studios," said TiVo's CEO, Tom Rogers. "Now, TiVo subscribers can rent and purchase movies and TV shows and download them to their television set - all without leaving their homes."

With sagging subscriber growth and increasing shareholder unrest, this latest initiative is no doubt an attempt to attract more customers to TiVo. While the company is working with both Comcast and Cox to offer versions of the TiVo service on Motorola set-top boxes, consumers have generally balked at the idea of paying $12.95 USD per month -- or more -- for the company's own boxes.

TiVo officials have made it clear that the company plans to continue to focus on functionality over profitability to ensure that it stays competitive in an increasingly crowded DVR marketplace.

"The television is and will continue to be the preferred platform for watching video content, and TiVo is leading the charge in offering broadband-delivered content to the living room," TiVo's programming head Tara Maitra said.

While the Unbox on TiVo service is not currently available, TiVo has set up a mailing listto inform users when it launches.

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