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Yahoo offers content to set-top makers

Hoping to branch into consumer devices, Yahoo will let makers of cable and satellite TV set-top boxes license its content and services.

Yahoo on Thursday will begin licensing Web applications to set-top box manufacturers in hopes of reaching beyond the PC and into the living room.

The Yahoo Digital Home Developer Program, announced Wednesday evening, will let makers of set-top boxes add Yahoo services such as online radio, photos, music videos and a personalized My Yahoo page to their devices. The Yahoo applications are XML-based, thus able to run on any set-top operating system.

Yahoo's push into set-top boxes highlights the company's desire to expand with the changing face of home entertainment. Cable companies, regional phone companies and consumer-electronics companies are all introducing new products and services based around Internet-enabled living room devices. These features also let people watch on-demand videos, listen to digital music files and view digital photos through television sets.

Yahoo currently has a deal with consumer-electronics giant Royal Philips Electronics to use the Web portal's services in its Internet-connected set-tops. The company also expanded its deal with SBC Communications to offer applications on the local phone giant's Internet video service, due out later this year.

The idea of the program is to try expanding Yahoo's licensing arrangements to smaller device makers, according to Steve Boom, Yahoo's senior vice president of broadband access and bundled services.

"This is to reach some consumer-electronics manufacturers that would be harder for us to scale to support all of them as individual partners," Boom said in a telephone interview.

A Yahoo representative said the company has not struck any licensing agreements but is in discussions with companies.

Separately, Yahoo will offer some of its services through Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center. Other content partners include Discovery Channel, Fox Sports Interactive Media, TitanTV and XM Satellite Radio.