TiVo is a company offering a branded subscription-based interactive television service that lets viewers program and control which television shows they watch, and when. TiVo requires the purchase of a personal digital video receiver and a subscription to TiVo Personal TV service. The service and the receiver are compatible with cable, digital cable, direct broadcast satellite, or rooftop antennae. The receiver connects to both the TV set and either the cable box, satellite receiver, or the antenna. A VCR also can be plugged into the receiver to serve as an archive device.
The service powers the set-top receiver and uses phone lines to provide information and software needed to deliver special interactive TV features, including the ability to manipulate programs by pausing, rewinding or instantly replaying a portion of the broadcast, without missing succeeding action. TiVo also is equipped with memory to remember a user's favorite television show and automatically make a digital recording of the program each time it airs. TiVo's digital recorder stores up to 30 hours of TV programming.
A competing interactive TV subscription service is the newer UltimateTV, which is part of Microsoft's WebTV Networks Inc. UltimateTV includes WebTV 's built-in computer technology, which allows viewers to receive Internet content and services while also viewing television. UltimateTV also comes equipped with two tuners for simultaneously recording two programs.
Other companies offering interactive TV services are ReplayTV and EchoStar Communications. ReplayTV offers personal video recorders that let viewers search for programs based on keywords, such as an actor's name. EchoStar offers the service in partnership with OpenTV.