US personal video recorder pioneer TiVo is to offer users new technology enabling them to download stored TV programs to Apple iPods or Sony PlayStation Portables.

The company says it is responding to the huge boom in portable TV-viewing devices as consumers untether themselves from time and location when watching television.

TiVo will begin testing the software within weeks and plans to offer the service available to its 1.3 million direct subscribers in the first quarter of next year. The one-off cost is expected to be between $15 (€12; £8) and $30.

Analysts say the ease of transfer from recorder to iPod will be crucial to TiVo's success. Sixty minute shows will take around two hours to download to a portable device.

The new offering extends the California-headquartered company's TiVoToGo service which enables the transfer of recorded programs to laptop computers and mobile entertainment devices based on Microsoft technology.

It could prove a costly thorn in the side of major TV networks such as Viacom's CBS and General Electric's NBC. Both have inked deals to enable digital subscribers on other platforms to download to computer some of their most popular programs shortly after they air. They plan to chage a small fee per show [WAMN: 09-Nov-05], whereas TiVo downloads will be free.

TiVo ceo Tom Rogers believes broadcasters will enthusiastically embrace the TiVo download option for mobile devices - not least because its new technology leaves commercial breaks intact.

Neither Sony nor Apple has any involvement in TiVo's plans and neither has commented.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff