TiVo Inks Deals with HBO, Showtime, and The Weather Channel

Amid a flurry of activity last week, TiVo announced new agreements with several content providers to help support its new hard-disk-based A/V recording and playback system. As reported during last month's Consumer Electronics Show coverage, TiVo and rival start-up Replay intend to market digital devices with sophisticated software that finds and time-shifts TV programming, giving viewers more control over selecting and watching television content.

Among the content providers that recently signed up with TiVo are HBO, Showtime, and The Weather Channel. According to Stacy Jolna of TiVo, these relationships "will give TiVo users a wonderfully diverse set of viewing options. Our relationship with HBO is a centerpiece of our strategy to deliver the best viewing options through alliances with the premier content providers. We are thrilled to have HBO on the TiVo team." HBO plans to make available movies, series, documentaries, comedy and music specials, sports, and family shows. TiVo says it will work with HBO to develop a "Showcase," which will alert subscribers to HBO programming that fits the preferences TiVo has "learned" from their previous choices.

In other words, TiVo will be watching what you choose in order to help its content partners target their shows to the most receptive audience possible. In marketspeak: "Customized services like TiVo represent a new era in television viewing, where consumers have more convenience and control in choosing what to watch," says Kevin Dowdell of HBO. "Our relationship with TiVo will serve to further unlock the value of HBO's programming for our subscribers and potentially attract new subscribers as well."

Perhaps one of the more interesting applications of these deals is having specific weather information "pushed" to your TV. Later this year, TiVo and The Weather Channel plan to join forces to offer subscribers specialized features from The Weather Channel in the TiVolution on-air video magazine. Using the TiVo technology, The Weather Channel will tag selected programming to make it available for "on-demand" viewing by users. As Jolna says, "Through this agreement, viewers can get updated weather information at their convenience."