Tivo starts YouTube service

US Tivo users will now be able to watch YouTube videos, streamed directly through their boxes to their TV sets, following a March agreement between the two companies.

The deal followed a similar one between Google-backed YouTube and Apple Inc, for Apple TV users to access the site’s content through their boxes.

Tivo users with broadband-enabled boxes have so far had access to downloadable-content from 60 internet sites, but the YouTube deal marks the first time users have had access to streamed content. The videos will not be downloaded onto the Tivo set-tops but streamed through the boxes straight to users’ TV sets. Users must have Tivo Series 3 or Tivo HD boxes to access YouTube content, around a fifth of Tivo’s 3.8 million subscriber base.

TiVo users can now search, browse and watch their favorite YouTube videos with users soon also able to log into their YouTube accounts directly through the TV to access their videos, channels and playlists.

“YouTube brings video where the audience is - across the Web and onto mobile devices, TVs and video games,” said Hunter Walk, YouTube’s director of product management. “The partnership with TiVo extends our ability to make YouTube accessible anywhere and lets people watch what they want, when they want it.”

On-demand movie content from Amazon Unbox has so far been one of Tivo’s successful partnerships, part of a total of 27 million pieces of content downloaded onto Tivo set-tops. But with 68 million unique YouTube users per month accessing content via their PCs, the popularity of the site is likely to transfer to the television.