SanDisk Corp. introduced on Monday a service for downloading free and advertising-supported video from the Internet, which could compete with Apple Inc.'s iTunes.
SanDisk said its new system, called "Fanfare," serves as a companion to the Sansa TakeTV PC-to-TV Video Player, a pocket-sized memory module which it also introduced on Monday. The device lets users save videos downloaded onto a personal computer and move them to a traditional television.
Fanfare, now in the early "beta" stage, will be launched as a full version early next year.
SanDisk's device and online service arrive as consumers are exercising more control over when they watch TV programs, with many viewing shows on computers or portable media players.
Apple remains dominant in video and audio downloading, but it is expected to face a tougher time filling its iTunes store with TV shows and movies as big media companies gird against repeating the music industry's mistakes by giving away content at cheap prices.
Fanfare adds to the growing number of iTunes rivals, including Amazon.com's "Unbox" service.
"The overall vision of Fanfare is to enable users to draw from a rich catalog of free and paid video content from a single location for playback on a wide variety of portable devices in the future," SanDisk said in a statement.
The only major U.S. network affiliated with the service at launch is CBS Corp.'s CBS and its pay-tv unit, Showtime Networks, with shows such as "CSI" and "Dexter." Fanfare will also have videos from Smithsonian Networks, The Weather Channel and TV Guide Broadband.