Netflix adds a fifth set-top box to its streaming lineup.

In the beginning, there was Netflix streaming movies and TV content to the PC, and it was “meh.” Then there was the Roku Netflix player and it was actually pretty good. And lo, then there was Netflix streaming to the Xbox, and the LG and Samsung Blu-Ray DVD players — and things got interesting. Today, Netflix announced that it has added TiVo to its list of streaming partners… and we were surprised.

This one came out of left field. Netflix had earlier said that it had four set-top box partners and with the announcement of Samsung last week we thought that was it. But, BAM! Here it comes with another brand-name partner.

Perhaps TiVo needs Netflix more than the other way around. TiVo has been hemorrhaging subscribers over the past year and a half. According to TVbytheNumbers.com, the DVR maker had 3.6 million subscribers in July 2008, the same level it had in July 2005.

Netflix on TiVo will be available to TiVo Series3, TiVo HD, and TiVo HD XL owners. The two companies will start testing the new service today in “several thousand” U.S. households, and they anticipate it will be widely available in early December (read: “Hey! Please ignore your cable DVR and buy a TiVo this holiday.”).

Our question: Given the TiVo models the service will be on, will they get HD streaming like Xbox is getting?

  1. [...] 30 October 2008 at 12:16 am (Convergence) (netflix, tivo) TiVo and Netflix have taken four years to get to this point, but by December you should be able to watch Netflix movies on your TiVo Series3, TiVo HD or TiVo HD XL. (tip) [...]

  2. I’m trying to figure out what the business case for Netflix is on this:

    Allow more of your existing customers to watch Streaming Netflix at no additional charge. It adds costs (bandwidth charges) but no additional revenue other than potential licensing from the hardware “partners”.

    I cannot see the point of this.

    I also don’t believe that Netflix will be picking up any significant volume of subscribers based on these partnerships either due to the fact that the depth of the streaming library is pretty thin.

    Can someone at NewTeeVee postulate on what the business model is here?


  3. Chris, yep, the HD streams will work with HD compatible TiVos. Not crystal clear when — Xbox will get it first — but could be same time as Xbox, or a little later.

    Timekeeper, It’s all experimentation now. Besides the cable industry, no one knows how to do digital content delivery well for movies. iTunes/Apple TV hasn’t blown anyone away. But Netflix, TiVo, and all of their partners need to figure something out for the post-DVD era. The library will get bigger, streaming costs will come down, and eventually, they might offset DVD costs. Or maybe Netflix will charge more for streaming the way they’re now charging more for Blu-ray. But they can’t afford NOT to experiment right now. And it’s not hurting their business much more than anything else right now.

  4. Dan, do you have confirmation on TiVo HD streaming? I wasn’t able to get it yesterday from TiVo and my MRV HD streaming on TiVo has always been less than real time… Though VC-1 content should theoretically be smaller than TiVo’s own MPEG-2.

  5. [...] for the full press release. More from NewTeeVee and the NYTimes. Enable your TiVo for Netflix downloads by visiting [...]

  6. Yes, I got Netflix to confirm HD streaming to me.


    “Eventually HD like the other devices after Xbox” was full text of email.

    Could be wrong, of course, or could suck. But I guess we’ll see.

  7. Jimmy Crack Corn Thursday, October 30, 2008

    But not Series 2, huh?

    There goes my reason to renew…

  8. [...] seen. For TiVo’s sake, this partnership should keep them in the running for a few more years. Link Read More Rejoice! TiVo Lifetime Subscriptions Make A ComebackTiVo offering special discount until [...]

  9. Dan, thanks for the insight but its that “let’s see what happens” attitude gets companies in trouble – especially in a recession. Without a clear IPTV strategy that shows profitability, they run the risk of digging a very deep hole. They can’t keep throwing money at a concept with negative margins and hope to make it up in volume.

    I’m not sure streaming costs will come down dramatically any time soon. On the consumer side, ISPs, who are also the Cable companies, go figure, are starting to choke bandwidth and upsell you on higher speed internet in order to grab a bit of the streaming revenue stream as well.

    It’s interesting that they partnered with TiVo as most of the flix on the NetFlix streaming service can be seen by people with a decent Cable/Sat package and a TiVo already.

    I have this sneaking suspicion that NetFlix is using a loophole in their distribution contract to provide streaming for free. Eventually content rights holders wise up, plug that hole and start demanding a much larger piece of the pie. This may be why we’re not seeing any quality content on the streaming service yet. The rights holders may want too much money.


  10. “I have this sneaking suspicion that NetFlix is using a loophole in their distribution contract to provide streaming for free.”

    Give me a break. It’s free for you and I, it’s not free for Netflix. And both they and their content partners know exactly where this content is headed, as Netflix begins their digital metamorphosis.


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