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TiVo-Rhapsody Partnership Brings Video Recording a New Sound

Oct 15, 2007 8:00 AM

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Faced with increased competition from cable and satellite-supplied DVRs, Apple TV, and FiOS, along with the impending introduction of Moxi and the emerging world of Vista-based Media Center PCs, TiVo is doing its best to remain relevant and cutting-edge.

The company’s latest partnership puts Rhapsody’s 4-million-track music library on the TiVo menu, giving subscribers access to music as well as video. The hope is that Rhapsody will expand the company’s profile beyond being the generic term for digital video recording to being a name in the music industry as well.

A Rhapsody subscription operates as a site license for subscribers. The $12.95 monthly fee covers any electronics members use to access the Rhapsody library: a PC, MP3 player, Sonos multiroom music system, and now TiVo.

TiVo subscribers who opt into the Rhapsody program, which is available via broadband connection only, go through a Rhapsody section on the TiVo menu. Rhapsody is one of the options under the Music, Photos, Products, and More section on the main TV screen, and the interface has been tweaked to give it a TiVo-like look and feel.

The companies offer some integration between the two services. Users can tap the TiVo remote control to give thumbs-up or thumbs-down ratings to music in the same way they indicate an opinion on a TV show. Rhapsody then uses those preferences to make recommendations about additional artists or music that a subscriber might like. The more users rate music, the more customized the music is to their tastes.

Whether consumers will take to music via TiVo enough to shell out an additional $13 a month is a looming question. The companies hope to leverage the TV screen in a way that offers consumers a simple way to access, filter, and organize millions of tunes. The Rhapsody library is organized by genre, album, artist, title and users can create their own playlists. In addition, the service pushes new music to users in new release format.

Consumers currently receive music channels for free as part of cable and satellite subscription packages, but TiVo CEO Tom Rogers notes that users don’t get to choose music with those channels. “With Rhapsody, consumers can personalize their music and have full choice so that they get what they want when they want it,” he told journalists last week at the launch event for the service.

The Rhapsody deal follows TiVo’s announcement earlier this year that broadband TiVo users can now download content from Owners of TiVo Series 2 and Series 3 boxes can rent or purchase movies from Amazon’s Unbox service, which offers individual TV shows for $1.99 per episode and movies for between $9.99 and $14.99. Movie rentals start at $1.99.

Unbox RemoteLoad technology allows customers to buy videos from one PC and download to another computer or a TiVo box. Bundled with RemoteLoad is a second file optimized for playback on a Windows Media-compatible portable device such as the Creative Zen or Toshiba Gigabeat.

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