TiVo Does Netflix

Posted by: Cliff Edwards on October 30, 2008

It’s deja vu all over again. Back in 2004, TiVo and Netflix announced they would be joining forces to deliver movies and other video from the mail-order rental company directly to TiVo boxes but the deal quickly fell apart after Hollywood balked at licensing content.

Now that studios are beginning to see the value of digitally delivering content directly to couch potatoes, the deal is back on. Any TiVo customers with a TiVo Series 3, TiVo HD, or TiVo HD XL this December will be able to access about 12,000 Netflix video choices with no extra cost other than Netflix’s monthly subscription fee.

Both companies have been moving aggressively to add more value to their services. Netflix now has struck deals with Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, LG and Roku to deliver movies and TV shows through televisions, set-top boxes and game consoles. TiVo, which charges a monthly or lifetime service fee, has expanded from its partnership with Amazon’s Unbox video service. In recent months, it has added CinemaNow and Jaman movie downloads and the Rhapsody movie subscription service.

Netflix is a bigger deal to TiVo because people who own the standalone box won’t have to shell out any additional cash. It might one day become an industry-changing deal if Hollywood opens the floodgates on the amount of content they license to Netflix and offers more current movies for streaming.

Most anyone who owns a TiVo will tell you how much they love it over rival digital video recorders offered by cable and satellite, but the service remains a niche product. Potential customers have balked at both paying for the box and monthly service. Each announcement of additional functionality helps overcome that reticence and offers another proof-point that TiVo has a lot of life left in it still.

Reader Comments

John Michl

October 31, 2008 10:25 AM

This is awesome. I have four TiVos in my house. I was relatively early adopter of Netflix but cancelled after a year or two because I fell into the trap of watching movies they day they would arrive so I could maximize my movie watching. As a past subscriber, I just received a free month of Netflix as part of a class action suit. I forgot how much I enjoyed the convenience and variety. I have difficulty finding anything of value at the local Blockbuster or from Amazon's Unbox. Yesterday, I received notice that my free month was up and would automatically be cancelled. This news, however, will cause me to rejoin without a doubt. As far as Tivo versus Cable DVR...no comparison. I bought my first Tivo about four years ago (we now have four in the house). I had an extended warranty and I purchased a lifetime service contract so I don't pay the monthly fees. Before the warranty expired the harddrive went bad. Best Buy said they could replace it since it was no longer made so they gave me the Series 3 HD model. Tivo was nice enough to transfer my lifetime membership even though the terms of that agreement said the membership was for the life of the original unit -- which died after four years. (Note - it only needed to last 18 months for the advanced purchase to pay off.) I noticed that the HD unit with lifetime Tivo service was going for $750 on eBay and thought, "Maybe this is the time to switch to Cable DVR and pocket some cash." So I disconnected the TiVos and rented four cable DVR boxes. They lasted one month and we were back to Tivo. Even my non-techy wife wanted Tivo back. (This morning she even said, "I wish I had Tivo on the radio in my car!"

Congrats to Tivo and Netflix for making this happen. You've got one thrilled customer here.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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