TiVo Inks Deal To Offer RealNetworks Music Service - InformationWeek

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TiVo Inks Deal To Offer RealNetworks Music Service

The deal gives TiVo one more online service as the company tries to differentiate its DVR from competitors by positioning it as an Internet gateway for the home.

TiVo on Tuesday said it would offer RealNetworks' Rhapsody online music service, further positioning TiVo's namesake digital video recorder as the Internet hub for the home.

The deal with RealNetworks, which owns and operates Rhapsody in a partnership with MTV Networks, adds to TiVo's growing list of online partners, which include Amazon and Yahoo. TiVo subscribers can get access to Amazon's Unbox service for movies and TV shows, and Yahoo's photo service.

In the latest deal, subscribers to TiVo's broadband-connected DVR can access Rhapsody's catalog of 4 million songs, using the hardware's remote control. The service enables streaming of songs and Internet radio stations, but does not allow users to share music files with other devices in the home, or download them to a mobile player. The service costs $13 a month for streaming an unlimited number of tunes.

Along with streaming music, Rhapsody allows users to browse charts of most popular artists, albums and songs, and to check out weekly lists of new releases. The service also has an intuitive search feature that makes suggestions based on prior searches.

For TiVo, the deal gives it one more online service as the company tries to differentiate its DVR from competitors by positioning it as an Internet gateway for the home. For RealNetworks, the deal helps to get its service into the living room, considered the prime entertainment location in most households. "We're thrilled to bring Rhapsody into the heart of the living room with TiVo," Rob Glaser, chairman and chief executive of RealNetworks, said in a statement.

RealNetworks has hardware integration deals for its services with other vendors. Partners include iRiver, Nokia, SanDisk, Sonos and others.

TiVo has been waging an uphill battle against cable and satellite companies that offer subscribers DVRs with similar capabilities. The company in August reported a fiscal second-quarter loss of $17.7 million, compared to a loss $6.5 million the same period a year ago. The company blamed the widening loss on an inventory related write-down of $11.2 million.

As part of its fight to survive against bigger companies, TiVo has been aggressive in protecting its intellectual property. The company sued and won in U.S. District Court a patent infringement suit against EchoStar. A Texas jury in April 2006 awarded TiVo $73 million in damages. The case is under appeal.

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