TiVo Joins Netflix

If you can possibly remember back that far, back in September 2004, it looked like TiVo and Netflix would strike a deal to stream movies to set-top boxes. It was a terrifically brilliant idea. But nothing ever came of it. TiVo worked out a deal with Amazon for on-demand content and the companies seemed to part ways.

Until now. It was announced that some Tivo DVR owners can begin streaming Netflix movies and TV shows by early December. What's more, some lucky owners can begin streaming immediately in a beta testing program.

In particular, anyone owning TiVo HD, HD XL, or Series3 DVRs will have the capability. Sorry, the older Series2 and DirecTV models won't get the upgrade. This is part of the ongoing strategy on the part of Netflix with deals with Roku, LG, Samsung, and Microsoft Xbox 360 (coming in mid November, though Xbox Live is already up and running). It's also apparently part of TiVo's grand plan: Last week, TiVo announced deals with CinemaNow and Jaman.

The streaming capability with TiVo will follow the same deal as with the LG BD300 and Samsung BD-P2500 and BD-P2550 players, as well as the Xbox 360. Owners can sign up for the usual Netflix (and TiVo) fees, and begin streaming over their broadband internet connection any of the 12,000 movies and TV shows in the Netflix library. This is an unlimited one-fee-covers-all deal. To sweeten things, Netflix inked a deal with the Starz movie channel.

Even better, Netflix is gearing up for HD streaming with about 300 titles. And reportedly this will be available to all these devices, not just Xbox 360. Of course, you'll need wide pipes to be able to handle the HD bitstream.

Cool stuff. The question is, is this another indication that streaming, and not Blu-ray, is the wave of the future? Ken C. Pohlmann