Sony Inks Deal with TiVo

Competition in the personal video recorder market heated up considerably on September 8, when Sony Corporation of America announced that it had made an equity investment in TiVo, Inc. TiVo is a Sunnyvale, California-based maker of personal video recorders (PVRs), a new category of product using hard-disk technology for time-shifting television viewing.

Sony intends to work all sides of the PVR scenario: investing capital, building the devices, promoting TiVo's Personal Television Service, and providing content through its media divisions, including Sony Pictures. A Sony executive will sit on TiVo's Board of Directors.

"Sony is the world's leading consumer electronics and media company. This alliance represents a significant endorsement of TiVo's technology and personal television service. Our combined efforts will bring an even richer, more entertaining experience to viewers, who will now have access to a wide array of interactive services based on Sony content. This alliance further validates TiVo's personal television service as the next big thing in television," said TiVo's CEO, Mike Ramsey, of the deal.

A TiVo press release envisions the situation this way: "In the future, subscribers to TiVo's service will be able to access a gateway to Sony programming and content that may include Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Inc., and Sony Online Entertainment, as well as other properties that Sony has the right to promote and distribute."

All Sony all the time? Well, not quite. TiVo has previously announced investments from other big-name media cable and consumer electronics companies. Investors to date include CBS, Comcast Corporation, Cox Communications, Discovery Communications Inc., The Walt Disney Company, Liberty Media subsidiaries Liberty Digital and Encore Media Group, Advance/Newhouse, and TV Guide Interactive. TiVo also has partnerships with NBC, DirecTV, Philips Electronics, E! Entertainment Television, FLIX, HBO, Showtime, style, The Movie Channel, The Weather Channel, and ZDTV.

The Sony-TiVo deal followed by only a couple of weeks a similar announcement by Panasonic's parent company, Matsushita, that it would begin building PVRs for TiVo's rival, RePlay Networks, Inc.