TiVo subscribers now have direct access to the Amazon.com's Unbox movie and TV download service on their digital video recorders, the companies said Wednesday.
The partnership was originally unveiled last month, and a number of TiVo users have been beta testing the service since then. The Unbox's interface is now available on all of TiVo's broadband-equipped Series 2 and Series 3 boxes. Subscribers who want to use the service are instructed to log on to the Unbox-TiVo Web site from their computers in order to sync their Amazon and TiVo accounts. After that, they can purchase and download content directly from their TiVo boxes and watch it on their televisions.
Because the TiVo-Unbox partnership does not require a PC to download and watch content, this marks the first time Unbox is available to people who are not running Microsoft's Windows XP or Vista operating system. The Windows-only compatibility caused Amazon to come under a good deal of fire from critics when Unbox was originally released in September. CNET News.com named it one of the worst technologies of last year's third quarter.
On the bright side for Unbox and TiVo, the Apple TV hardware--which could deal a powerful blow to both services--has had its launch delayed by several weeks. Meanwhile, other television-on-demand and broadband TV services have been popping up: the much-hyped Internet TV start-up Joost, still in private beta; Wal-Mart's DVDs bundled with a digital version of each film; and BitTorrent's new entertainment marketplace.
TiVo customers who sign up for Unbox before the end of April will receive $15 worth of downloads for free. Unbox downloads normally cost $1.99 for a TV episode--the same price charged by Apple's iTunes Store--and between $9.99 and $14.99 for a movie. Unlike the iTunes Store, Unbox also offers movie rentals, starting at $1.99.
Also on Wednesday, Amazon unveiled two new entertainment offerings for Unbox, both on TiVo and over the Web--movies from Sony Pictures and MGM Studios. These will join a lineup of studios and networks that includes CBS, Fox Entertainment Group , Paramount Pictures, Showtime and Warner Bros. Entertainment.