Earthlink, TiVo in Bundling Pact

Can TiVo  rewind to its prosperous past? That’s the questions experts ask as the personal video recorder pioneer announces a bundling deal with Internet service provider Earthlink .

TiVo and Earthlink Tuesday said they will bundle Internet and TV service with the TiVo Series2 Dual Tuner DVR. The new bundle, expected to be sold later this year, includes the TiVo service and EarthLink dial-up, DSL and digital voice.

Today’s pact reflects TiVo’s attempts to expand beyond its stand-alone origins. The company has struggled to stay afloat as cable and satellite television companies hawk competing digital video recording (DVR) technology.

Although no pricing or financial details were provided, the two companies claim they’ll offer a DVR with DSL and digital phone service later this year at a lower price than competitors.

Along with the usual TiVo services, bundle users can access Amazon Unbox, enabling TiVo subscribers to rent and purchase movies and television episodes.

EarthLink said “in the future” it may use TiVoCast to deliver content to the ISP’s subscribers.

In addition, Verizon Wireless next week launches a service allowing subscribers to program their TiVo DVR from their cell phone, Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson told

Gartner analyst Van Baker views the deals as a “a step in the right direction.” TiVo, however, faces “an uphill battle” when working outside the cable and satellite providers’ world, Yankee analyst Josh Martin said.

In January, Martin predicted stand-alone DVRs, such as TiVo, would be gone by 2010. Most DVRs are part of a cable or satellite set-top. Only 2 million of the 18 million DVRs in the U.S. are stand-alone.

TiVo was not immediately available.

More important to TiVo’s future are upcoming deals with Comcast and Cox cable, according to Baker. The cable pacts could give TiVo a much larger audience. Both Comcast and Cox told they plan to rollout TiVo bundles later this year.

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