In a move to compete with Netflix, Blockbuster on Wednesday announced a partnership with TiVo to deliver its library of digital-movie titles direct to the television set.
Essentially, Blockbuster is integrating its OnDemand service, which offers content to buy and rent, into TiVo Series2, Series3, TiVo HD, and TiVo HD XL DVRs. The partnership aims to make it easier for broadband-connected TiVo subscribers to download Blockbuster's content through a single remote control.
"Ultimately, our vision is to work with TiVo so that their subscribers can access movies not only through our OnDemand service but also from our stores and through our by-mail service as well," said Jim Keyes, Blockbuster chairman and CEO. "Regardless of a film's availability -- through VOD or on DVD -- we want to work with TiVo to provide their subscribers unprecedented access to movie content."
Is Blockbuster a Boon for TiVo?
As part of the deal, Blockbuster will sell TiVo DVRs in its stores as well as online at blockbuster.com. TiVo and Blockbuster are also embarking on a cross-marketing campaign.
That could be a boon for TiVo, according to Phil Leigh, a senior analyst at Inside Digital Media. "This deal could help TiVo because they don't have a large market in the DVR market even though they pioneered it," he said. "Blockbuster has 7,500 stores."
TiVo sees joining forces with Blockbuster as further distinguishing it as a universal solution for content providers. Tom Rogers, president and CEO of TiVo, said its DVR is a one-stop shop for any content through broadband or linear distribution straight to the TV.
"When consumers walk into one of the thousands of Blockbuster stores, entertainment for the home is on their minds," Rogers said. "It could not be more natural to have them exposed to the world of millions of entertainment possibilities for the home that the TiVo service provides."
Too Little, Too Late?
The companies expect to have the Blockbuster OnDemand service integrated into TiVo DVRs in the second half of the year. Netflix beat Blockbuster to the TiVo punch by inking a deal with TiVo in December to allow customers who subscribe to both services to access movies and TV episodes instantly from Netflix -- at no additional charge.
Subscribers can browse through Netflix's library of more than 12,000 movies and TV episodes, add them to their Netflix instant queue, and then watch them on TV. The library includes titles from every genre. Netflix said both standard and HD titles are expected to grow.
Movies are streamed from Netflix through TiVo DVRs via a wired or wireless broadband connection. Films and TV shows in queues will automatically be displayed on subscribers' TVs, and are available to watch instantly through the TiVo service.
"The TiVo deal is coming kind of late for Blockbuster. If they roll this out in the second half of 2009, that puts them a full year behind Netflix and there are already a lot of options," Leigh said. "If I am going to get movies from my TiVo, I don't really care too much if it comes from Netflix or Blockbuster or Amazon or iTunes. Having another choice doesn't add that much because most of those stores already have the inventory of movies that I want to see."