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TiVo takes short films to small screens

The DVR company announces a deal with production company Standard Film to let subscribers tune in to short flicks directed by celebrities and sponsored by marketers.

TiVo on Tuesday announced a deal that will let its subscribers tune in to short films directed by celebrities and sponsored by marketers.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company struck an agreement with production company Standard Film Trust to showcase the films, which will be three to 15 minutes in duration, to subscribers. The move underscores TiVo's push to work with advertisers in promoting content on its digital video recording service.

"We're working to combine content with some branding, so we can have both mechanisms to attract advertisers and subscribers," said Rebecca Baer, a TiVo spokeswoman. "This is one of the early steps in the evolution of advertising."

The first of the films will be released Dec. 29 and will run through Jan. 12. The companies have not yet decided on a sponsor or what the first film will be.

The films will be part of TiVo's Showcase feature, a service that sends subscribers highlights of upcoming programming, contests and special promotions. The company has increasingly used the feature to promote the wares of its partners, such as retailer Best Buy, as well as upcoming releases from film and music companies.

TiVo has more than 464,000 subscribers to its service, which is used with digital video recorders (DVRs). The short films will be downloaded to the DVRs.

The company has been putting the pieces in place so that advertising can be a reliable source of revenue. It has teamed with partners such as Lieberman Research Worldwide and Nielsen Media Research to develop ways of improving and measuring promotions and viewer behavior. TiVo has said it is seeking to take more of a diplomatic approach than competitors in working with entertainment and advertising companies.

Rival Sonicblue has promoted its "commercial advance" feature, which allows subscribers to play back recorded shows without commercials. The capability has raised the ire of media companies and resulted in lawsuits being filed against it.