Verizon Wireless and TiVo on Tuesday announced a deal in which Verizon subscribers will be able to program the latter company's digital video recorder through their mobile phones.
Starting this summer, Verizon will offer an application that turns certain mobile phones into a kind of TiVo remote control for scheduling recordings of TV shows. Verizon, a joint venture of New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. and British carrier Vodafone Group PLC, plans to offer the application through its Get It Now download service.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
TiVo is hoping the service will become popular among wireless subscribers who want the option of scheduling recordings while away from home. The company offers a similar service for programming its DVR through a computer connected to the Web. The service, which is suppose to appeal to people at work, was launched in November 2005 through a deal with Yahoo Inc., which has built a special site on Yahoo TV.
"This arrangement will allow the growing base of TiVo subscribers to integrate control of their TV life with the most widespread piece of consumer electronics, the wireless phone," Tom Rogers, chief executive of TiVo, said in a statement.
TiVo, based in Alviso, Calif., has 4 million subscribers, making it the largest DVR provider in the world, according to market researcher In-Stat, which pegs the total number of DVR subscribers at 12 million.
The company, however, is struggling to grow its subscriber base, as it faces stiffer competition from cable operators and telephone companies delivering similar capabilities in set-top boxes. Unlike its competitors, which are selling directly to 10s of millions of their own TV subscribers, TiVo sells its DVR through retailers or through partnerships with satellite or cable companies.
"Tivo has a lot of challenges," Mike Paxton, analyst for market researcher In-Stat, said. "It's a tough market segment."
In trying to grow its business, TiVo has announced more than a dozen services over the last year, in trying to differentiate itself from competitors, Paxton said.
"We haven't seen any of them strike a chord with consumers in terms of attracting new subscribers to the TiVo service," he said.
The latest feature is not expected to change that.
"It's not going to significantly attract new subscribers to TiVo products and services," Paxton said. "From a technology perspective, it's neat and a nice-to-have feature that may appeal to people on the cutting edge of technology. But we think that's a relatively small segment of the population."
TiVo mobile application will provide subscribers with an interface similar to what their use to at home, the company said. Besides offering the software download, Verizon Wireless has also agreed under the exclusive arrangement to a joint marketing campaign with TiVo.
In December, TiVo rolled out a host of online services, reflecting an industry trend of merging the Internet with TV.
Customers with a TiVo Series 2 DVR connected to the Internet over broadband have access to services provided by partners Fandango, a movie ticket service; Web radio network Live365 and entertainment portal Yahoo.
The partnerships added a variety of services, including movie listings and tickets, web radio, podcasts, viewing shared photos and local traffic and weather. The new features were included as part of the standard TiVo service.