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TiVo Puts YouTube On Your Tube

Friday, 18 Jul 2008 | 9:24 AM ET

No more squinting at your laptop screen or crowding around the family desktop.

On Thursday, TiVo announced users can access YouTube videos, streaming them on their living room TV, rolling out over the next few weeks.

It's free to all customers who have a "TiVo HD" or "Series 3" TiVo, or it has to be networked to the Internet. (That's about a a fifth of TiVo's 3.8 million users). The company announced this partnership earlier in March, saying a product would be available within six months, putting this surprise launch ahead of schedule.

Sixty eight million unique users watched YouTube videos in May, streaming 3.8 billion videos. TiVo's hoping this will be a key factor differentiating their service from all the other DVR services cable companies and the like now offer. TiVo says this is a natural extension of giving users access to content anytime they want, on their TV. The way people toggle between windows on their TV, this could be really useful.

The example given this week is George Carlin; if you're watching a bio of him on TV, you can pause the program and switch to YouTube to find some of his comedy segments. And TiVo expects to find people exploring and consuming YouTube content in a whole new way now-- with their family in front of the same screen.

While this is TiVo's first deal for streaming content, it already has deals for 60 internet sites from the Onion, to CNET to provide TiVo with content that users can store on their TiVo hard drive. TiVo's biggest customer here is the Amazon Unbox which allows you to rent movies, download them to your TiVo set-top box to watch on your TV. The difference with these YouTube clips is that are streamed, which means they can't be saved, just bookmarked later for easy retrieval. Apple allows users to play YouTube videos through its Apple TV, though that set top box hasn't been nearly as popular as TiVo's box.

TiVo has been up and down over the past year, but year to date has still outperformed the Dow. There are so many competing digital content management and distribution mechanisms out there. TiVo was among the first really successful ones out the gate, and now it's trying to prove it can compete and stay ahead of the curve.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.