RealTime IT News

Amazon, TiVo Cut Digital Deal

Amazon and TiVo claimed their own spot in the digital living room today. The e-commerce giant and the digital video service provider announced Amazon Unbox on Tivo.

The soon-to-be-launched service, a new feature of Amazon Unbox, will allow TiVo subscribers to rent and purchase movies and television shows from studios and networks, including CBS, Fox Entertainment Group, Lions Gate, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Customers can purchase television episodes for $1.99 and most movies for between $9.99 and $14.99. They can also rent movies starting at $1.99.

Movies and TV downloads are already available from Wal-Mart and Apple, but with Amazon Unbox on Tivo the content goes straight to the customer's TV. After movie is downloaded, the title will automatically appear in the subscriber's TiVo "Now Playing" list.

TiVo's vice president and general manager for programming Tara Maitra said the direct-to-TV delivery is what gives this new service its competitive edge.

"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," Maitra said in a statement.

Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey told internetnews.com that closing the broadband to TV loop does give Amazon and TiVo a head start.

"It lets each do what it does best: the PC lets you browse and search to pick movies while the TV shows you the movie," McQuivey said.

But it's only a head start. McQuivey said the idea is such a good one that competitors are sure to follow.

"Don't be surprised if cable companies add this type of feature to their own cable set top boxes, especially for people who subscribe to cable TV and broadband Internet service from their cable companies," McQuivey said.

Apple is planning a living-room invasion, too. Apple TV, due later this month, will allow consumers to play their digital content wirelessly in the living room. It will include 802.11 wireless connectivity, USB, Ethernet, HDMI and component video connections. Apple said it expects Apple TV to run $299.

Amazon Unbox on TiVo is currently in beta testing among a select group of TiVo subscribers and will be available soon to more than 1.5 million broadband-ready TiVo boxes. To activate the service, subscribers will simply log on to Amazon.com and follow a few simple steps to establish a link between their broadband connected TiVo Series2 or Series3 boxes and their Amazon accounts.