TiVo Downloads Coming Soon To IPods, PSP (sub. req.)

Talk about potentially disruptive technology … TiVo is adapting its TiVoToGo software, currently designed only for Windows Mobile Portable Media Center devices , to work with the new video iPods and Sony’s PSPs, according to Monday’s WSJ. And it’s doing it without Apple’s involvement. That means that shows like “Lost” and “Desparate Housewives” currently being charged for via iTunes could be downloaded sans charge as could any show that can be recorded on TiVo — after a one-time fee estimated at $15-30 — by anyone with the TiVo Series 2. (DirecTV TiVo subs will miss out on this, just as we miss out on all the cool TiVo tweaks.) EchoStar already offers Archos players branded as PocketDISH that store 20-30 hours of video downloaded from compatible Dish DVRs. Other devices allow recording directly from the TV.

Testing starts before the end of the year with a launch slated for Q1 next year. As described by the Journal, it’s not as easy as going through iTunes, requiring recording first to the TiVo, then transfer via network to a PC, convert formats and download to the device. The recordings will be digitially watermarked for tracing if they show up online.

Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff is less than thrilled by the financial potential for portable video: “I’m just questioning whether this is the killer application for recorded TV. I still say that the right size for television pictures is 42 inches, and that’s not portable.” But TiVo CEO Tom Rogers points out that the TiVo leaves advertising intact, unlike the ad-less iTunes downloads.

NYT: Owners of the Apple or Sony devices will need to pay TiVo to unlock the portion of the new software that converts videos to the MPEG-4 format used by those players. The cost, between $15-30, will cover licensing fees and other expenses associated with using the MPEG-4 format, the company said.

LAT: Jim Denney, TiVo’s vice president of product marketing estimated that it would take about two hours for an hour-long show to make its way from a TiVo set-top box to a PSP or video iPod. VOD and PPV content will not be allowed to be portable, the story says.

AP: The beta version starts Monday.