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TiVo sets sights on Net content, cuts prices

The company is developing technology that will allow movies and music to be downloaded directly from the Internet to subscribers' digital video recorders.

TiVo is developing new services to allow movies and music to be downloaded to its digital video recorders, but in the meantime the company is cutting prices for its current services to boost subscriptions to its standalone recorders.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company is expected to announce Wednesday at a New York event price cuts for services used with its Series2 standalone digital video recorders, or DVRs. TiVo's networking software--a $99 option called Home Media Option--will become part of its standard service offering for both monthly and lifetime subscribers.

The company will also offer those with multiple TiVo boxes a price cut for additional recorders. The monthly subscription rate for the first recorder will remain $12.95, but additional recorders will cost $6.95. Lifetime subscriptions will remain $299.

TiVo said no changes are planned for the price or features offered with DirecTV TiVo boxes.

The company has been developing advanced services for downloading movies and music from the Internet, as well as new advertising services. But no timetable has been set for those features, a company representative said.

TiVo's relationship with its main partner, DirecTV, has gone through some turmoil during the past couple of days, as DirecTV sold its stake in TiVo and DirecTV's vice chairman left TiVo's board. Analysts have cited concerns over the moves because most of TiVo's subscriptions are from DirecTV customers.

TiVo has been looking to attract more standalone subscribers as well as licensees of its DVR technology.

At the same time, TiVo has developed new services to allow its recorders to connect to home networks and play more of a role in what is more and more being referred to as the digital home, which is made up of home devices connected to one another by a network.

The Home Media Option software is part of that effort. It allows TiVo boxes to access and distribute content such as music files and digital photos stored on the hard drives of Apple Computer's Macs or on Windows PCs, streaming them to television sets or stereos via wired or wireless home networks.