TiVo Downloads May Be Slow

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Dish Network customers with the company’s new PocketDish portable media players can transfer an hour-long show from their digital video recorders to the handheld units in about five minutes.

That blows away the two-hour estimate TiVo executives give for how long it would take customers to transfer content from their TiVo DVRs to a personal computer, and then to an Apple Computer iPod, a Sony Corp. PlayStation Portable or any other media player that supports the MPEG-4 standard.

While EchoStar Communications Corp.’s product appears more consumer-friendly on the surface, TiVo vice president of product marketing Jim Denney said his company’s offering, announced last week, is designed for viewers to transfer content from their DVRs to portable media players while they’re sleeping.

“I don’t think it’s something that you’d want to click and then wait for necessarily,” Denney said.

TiVo won’t charge fees for enabling the functionality. Instead, it will charge customers one-time software download fees, expected to cost $15 to $30, Denney said. TiVo said it will enable the ability to transfer content from DVRs to PCs and handheld media players during the first quarter.

Denney said all content will be encrypted when it’s transferred from DVRs to PCs. If a TiVo subscriber decides to distribute copyrighted programming from his DVR to friends or others via the Internet, TiVo would be able to track whose DVR it came from.

The TiVo announcement came a month after Apple announced a deal with The Walt Disney Co. to let consumers download episodes of Desperate Housewives and other shows to iPod video players for $1.99 apiece.

While it’s not clear how many viewers will go through the effort to transfer content from TiVo to the iPod, TiVo’s move could have an impact on sales of ABC programming from its iTunes store. Apple spokesman Steve Dowling didn’t return a phone call.

TiVo is also working with Comcast Corp. to market TiVo-branded DVRs to its cable customers next year. Comcast could eventually distribute portable media players to its subscribers.

“Our deal with TiVo allows us to develop a wide range of products with them. Part of what attracted us to them is that they’re known to be innovators,” according to Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer.

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