TiVo, Amazon, HP and Wal-Mart Get Into Video Downloads

Two more Hollywood marriages came down the pike this week, both motivated by the express purpose of selling movie downloads.

TiVo, the Alviso, Calif. innovator of the personal video recorder, traded rings with Seattle-based Amazon, the world's largest bookstore that also sells foie gras and ball bearings. Bentonville, Ark.'s Wal-Mart, the planet's biggest retailer, paired up with the largest PC maker in the known solar system, Hewlett Packard, located in Palo Alto, Calif.

The TiVo/Amazon service has beta launched with the somewhat clunky moniker "Amazon Unbox on TiVo." Sans TiVo, Amazon Unbox launched last September for downloads to PCs. The TiVo aspect potentially adds 1.5 million televisions to the mix based on the estimated number of broadband-enabled TiVo boxes in the market. Without specifying a full launch date, the companies said the service would "be available soon" to those homes.

Unbox will include content from CBS, Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. TV episodes and movie rentals are expected to run about $1.99, with movie buys between $9.99 and $14.99.

Wal-Mart and HP announced their online video venture Tuesday, calling it an "engaging video shopping experience for packaged video products and online downloads that is unlike anything available on the market."

Be that as it may, the service offers downloads, like Unbox, CinemaNow and Movielink; DVDs for delivery, like Blockbuster and Netflix, and the smattering of material available on HD DVD and Blu-ray.

The content library includes 3,000 titles from Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, Sony, Fox, Universal and the Viacom cable nets. The Wal-Mart-branded site (opens in new tab) is live online.