TiVo Does Netflix

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.