YouTube played on TiVo

Web content streamed through set-top boxes

Just what the television industry needs, increased competition from those wacky YouTube videos that 68 million people watch every month.

Only now, it will be easier than ever to view them on TV screens.

Beginning today, TiVo will offer thousands of its subscribers the ability to stream YouTube videos onto their TV sets through their broadband-enabled TiVo boxes.

It's TiVo's first deal for streaming online content, though the company has partnerships with 60 Internet sites that provide content to TiVo. But TiVo users won't be able to store YouTube video clips, just watch them and bookmark them for easy retrieval later.

TiVo's most popular Internet content partner is Amazon Unbox. Tara Maitra, GM of content services at TiVo, said the company's users have downloaded 27 million pieces of content from the Internet partners. Beyond Amazon Unbox, comedy shorts from sources like the Onion are popular.

YouTube, though, is expected to quickly outdo them all. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, YouTube attracted 68 million unique users in May who streamed 3.8 billion videos, making it by far the most popular video brand on the Internet. Fox Interactive Media, which includes MySpace, was second with 18 million unique users and 328 million video streams.

However, while TiVo has 3.8 million subscribers, only about a fifth of them have the necessary equipment — a TiVo Series 3 or TiVo HD — for grabbing YouTube content and displaying it on TV screens. (partialdiff)