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TiVo Breaks Wall Between Web and TV Content

TiVo has launched a new technology that aims to break down the walls between content on TV and content on the Internet.

Tivo
Tivo

Channel surfers will be able to search one giant library that combines all online and TV content, based on actor or content type. Now they'll be able to watch all that content, no matter where it's from, on their TV.

TiVo is calling the technology "TiVo premiere" -- it'll sell a box at retail stores, and it'll also license the technology to cable providers.

This isn't about giving consumers access to more content: TiVo already has deals with Netflix, Blockbuster, YouTube , and Amazon's Video on Demand. It is about making it easier to search and browse all that content.

If you have TiVo, you have to go to the home screen and go to each of those aforementioned services to search and browse that content, and of course searching regular television is a whole other process. Now you'll be able to search "Jennifer Anniston" and TiVo will allow you to pick between old "Friends" episodes you can buy from "Amazon," web videos she's in on YouTube, and it'll even pick up movies she's in coming up on TV.

TiVo is clearly trying to distinguish itself from the generic DVRs some cable and satellite providers offer. (CMCSA, TWC, DTV, DISH). It's also hoping to lure in those cable companies who fear losing their TV customers who consume increasing amounts of content online.

Cable companies have been talking about whether consumers will "cut the cord" to their TV subscription. This could be the very thing to keep consumers from dropping a cable subscription. If you can access and search all that content you like to watch on the web from your giant flat screen TV, and everything integrated with your TV content, that certainly seems like the added value to keep people paying their cable (and DVR) bill.

TiVo is missing one key web internet provider -- Hulu. With Hulu content integrated, the amount of searchable content on demand would be really remarkable. But there's good reason the media giants who own Hulu would want to keep that from happening -- they don't want channel surfers to get the shorter ad experience of their big TV.

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