December 08, 2008

TiVo and Netflix Hook Up for Instant Video Gratification

It was once expected that the fight for video and Internet content in the living room would feature major players like Microsoft, Apple, TiVo, Netflix, Amazon, DirectTV and others vying for a share, each with their own proprietary formats and devices. But as time has progressed, we have seen vendors partner and collaborate with one another so nearly all content, with some major exceptions, is available on each device. YouTube is on both the AppleTV and TiVo, for instance. Amazon can be found on TiVo. And now, after much anticipation, TiVo users can now link in to their Netflix accounts and stream videos from their queue instantly.

With the latest Fall 2008 update, TiVo Series 3, HD and HD XLR DVR owners can use the "Video On Demand" menu option and see Netflix sitting alongside Amazon and YouTube. As NetFlix has tried to reinvent itself from the order by mail company with scads of bright red envelopes, and be instead known for having the widest array of online video available, they rightfully demanded a seat at the table on TiVo's menu, connecting some of the most loyal customers in the entertainment business in the process.

Netflix and TiVo Together at Last

For existing Netflix account owners, adding the service to TiVo is fairly straight forward. First, you either click "Watch Instantly" or "Netflix Account Information". Then, you are presented with an activation code which you need to enter on your computer by way of the Netflix Web site. When the activation code is entered, your DVR recognizes the code, and you get clearance to your account.

Yes! I am a Netflix Customer

Activating Via the Web...

Activation is Successful!

If you already have an instant queue set up from earlier use, it is automatically shown on your TiVo. Otherwise, just go to the site, and add a few items to your queue. The next time you look at the "Watch Instantly" menu item on your TiVo, the movies will be right there.

My Instant Queue Is Ready.

Just last week, I wrote about how I had used my TiVo to watch a pair of films from's UnBox service, and had run into video quality issues. But so far, I've had nothing but good things to say about the quality from Netflix, and wouldn't expect this to be any different. While the catalog of films available from the "Watch Instantly" menu isn't the biggest I've ever seen, even the most stingy of film aficionados should be able to find a movie on demand to their liking.

At this rate, it looks like I'll never see movies in the theater, get the new releases off Apple TV, and the old archival films off Netflix. But between the two boxes, I'm probably covered. It's a great time to be an entertainment technology junkie.