TiVo and Netflix announced Wednesday that subscribers to both services will be able to instantly stream thousands of movies and TV episodes to their television screens.
The collaboration, for TiVo Series3, TiVo HD, and TiVo HD XL subscribers who also belong to Netflix, is being tested in several thousand U.S. households and is expected to become more broadly available by early December. There will be no extra charge for those subscribers.
'Fabulously Easy Way'
A variety of companies have been trying to connect TV sets to the growing inventory of movies and TV shows available online, but many solutions have been complex and required additional purchases.
Reed Hastings, cofounder and CEO of Netflix, said "this collaboration offers a fabulously easy way to enhance the enjoyment of watching movies" in the comfort of home. Tom Rogers, president and CEO of TiVo, added that this joining of forces "creates the ultimate video on demand service."
The logistics involve streaming Netflix movies to specific TiVo DVRs through a wired or wireless broadband connection, with a Netflix queue-based user interface. Members still need to visit the Netflix Web site to manage their queues, such as adding or deleting TV episodes or movies.
This collaboration has been a long time coming. In 2004, both companies started development on a way to deliver Internet-based video to the TV set, but Netflix reportedly ran into roadblocks in securing licensing rights from movie and TV studios.
But eventually Netflix was able to work things out, and more than a year ago launched an Internet streaming service to deliver programs directly to subscribers over their computer broadband lines, rather than only through DVDs. The alliance with TiVo builds on that service.
'Very Big News'
"This is very big news for both of them," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president for consumer strategy at Jupitermedia. He added that both companies want to secure as many relationships as possible to increase their value to the consumer.
And both companies have been busy in that regard. Netflix, for instance, has teamed up to instantly stream its movies to a TV through an Xbox 360 game console. The movie service will also be embedded in LG and Samsung Blu-ray players, and it offers its own set-top box through Roku.
For its part, TiVo recently announced a deal with Jaman.com, an Internet movie service, and, in recent months, deals with Amazon, DirectTV and Entertainment Weekly.
James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester, said this particular announcement "says more about Netflix than it does about TiVo." He noted that, while TiVo is "eager to show that it's more than just a common DVR," the deal doesn't mean people are going to rush out and get a TiVo.
But, he said, Netflix does see each new partnership as adding to its value for potential customers. "Netflix's plan for world domination," he added, "is to make sure that any device that you buy in the future can stream Netflix content."