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TiVo and Netflix Hook Up

CowboyNeal posted about 10 years ago | from the coming-soon-to-a-set-top-box-near-you dept.

Television 148

thejoelpatrol writes "It's official. After denying that such a deal was in the works, TiVo and Netflix have finalized a deal to let TiVo subscribers download movies over their broadband connections. Several such services have sprung up recently, but none has the name recognition of either of these beloved entertainment-technology companies."

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First Post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403118)

Beware Bush, we're coming to get you -- GNAA [milk me]

Finally (-1, Offtopic)

tannnk (810257) | about 10 years ago | (#10403123)

I think finally Ill be able to see "Hackers"

The Register has a little more info (5, Informative)

kentmartin (244833) | about 10 years ago | (#10403150) vo_deal/ [] has some more info (albeit in a shorter article). It mentions that copy protection will be a bit a priority and that it should be easier to enforce than on anything as openly standard as PCs.

Should be cool though

Re:The Register has a little more info (2, Insightful)

seanyboy (587819) | about 10 years ago | (#10403167)

This is great news apart from the fact that I can't even buy a TiVo in the UK, never mind netflix. Tivo should be spending more time reopening markets, and less time pandering to the "next big thing"

Re:The Register has a little more info (3, Informative)

Eeknay (766740) | about 10 years ago | (#10403190)

TiVo was in fact released here in the UK, but it never took off, and as a result they withdrew it from the market. Instead, we have Sky+, and the reason that was so successful was because it intergrated two exisiting components - the Sky set-top box, which received the satellite service, and also a TiVo box, which recorded your programmes/movies. Since many, many people already subscribe to Sky, all they would have to do is buy the box for around £150, and upgrade their monthly service for an extra £10. And in regards to Netflix, you can record Sky Movies and Box Office showings on your Sky+ box, without having to download anything. Unfortunatly they're not latest releases, but hey, it's better than nothing.

Re:The Register has a little more info (1)

seanyboy (587819) | about 10 years ago | (#10403237)

Hence the usage of the phrase ... "Reopening"
Tivo never really tried in the UK, and I suspect it's because Murdoch tied them into Sky. That's fine if you want to throw your money at Fox, but for me, all I want is freeview and Tivo capabilities, with maybe the facility to download movies. Thompson, the original UK Tivo manufacturers, are currently making DVRs (so there is a market for them), but there's no Programme guide, favorites, etc.

This is exactly what MS is going against . . . (1)

Idou (572394) | about 10 years ago | (#10403370)

They want to close the PC with DRM, but the pc is already open. They have a lot of power so they are slowly getting the industry to cooperate, but, meanwhile, the vendors of content specialized hardware are simply light years ahead and just need to make some tweaks to get the content providers to go along. Ironically, Linux is being leveraged to make content specialized hardware cheaper to implement, making it even harder for MS and company to compete.

How do you like THEM apples!

Protecting content (5, Interesting)

erick99 (743982) | about 10 years ago | (#10403124)

The companies are planning to work together on technology that will secure this content, she said.

This is no small undertaking. I've gotta believe the MPAA and other interested bodies will be up Tivo/Netflix collective arses about piracy. It will be very interesting to see how long it takes to make the MPAA & company feel safe....

Re:Protecting content (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403366)

Companies need to get off their collective arses and start delivering moive-on-demand over broadband, or it will be worse for them in the long run.

The relatively new MPEG-4 format allows people to rip DVD video into pretty small files that have at least the same quality as an old VHS tape, if not a bit better. That means a two-hour movie can be compressed to about 300 megabytes, give or take with still a good quality picture and good sound.

The more widespread broadband connections get and the more advanced P2P technologies become the more that "movie" sharing will become as prevalent as "music" sharing. 300 megabyte files are easy to share from a broadband perspective, taking only 10-20 minutes on average as a torrent download (compared to hours for gigabyte DVD downloads).

Businesses like iTunes are finding it very difficult to compete in the online-music market where everyone is used to music being free, and now here is a newcomer wanting 99 cents and having a smaller selection of music, and formatted in bizarre and unconvertable formats.

It makes sense to have businesses like Netflix and Tivo to want to enter the broadband movie market as early as possible to get the regular consumers used to paying X dollars for movies sent to their TV.

They do have the benefit that most people want to watch movies on their TV rather then their computer, and Tivo is the perfect delivery device for doing just that.

Now anyone want to make a bet on how long before the "Blockbuster" or "Hollywood Video" stores file for Chapter 11?

Re:Protecting content (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403479)

Hey, where can I get in on that 10-20min/300mb torrent network?

Re:Protecting content (0)

theparanoidcynic (705438) | about 10 years ago | (#10403375)

It will be very interesting to see how long it takes to make the MPAA & company feel safe....

The MPAA will feel safe between the time that that some company or another sells them a "bulletproof" DRM system and three weeks later when somebody hacks the thing in the name of fair use, consequently letting the Kazaa monkeys at it.

2005? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403128)

in place by 2005?

heh, i just hope

I'll try it (4, Insightful)

CaptainSuperBoy (17170) | about 10 years ago | (#10403134)

I have a TiVo and I'm a Netflix subscriber. I think this is a great idea, but the companies are crazy if they think I'll pay more for it. I already pay $13/mo for TiVo and $22/mo for Netflix, that's $35 total for these services. No way I'm paying more than that, just to download movies from the Internet.

Re:I'll try it (4, Insightful)

Brento (26177) | about 10 years ago | (#10403178)

I think this is a great idea, but the companies are crazy if they think I'll pay more for it. I already pay $13/mo for TiVo and $22/mo for Netflix, that's $35 total for these services.

There's a benefit, though. With your current Netflix subscription, you lose movie time when you drop your viewed movie in the mail and wait for another one to come back to you. Plus, the movie that's next in your queue may not be available, and you may have to settle.

With the broadband delivery, there's less turnaround time, and the movie you want is always available. You don't have to worry about movies getting lost in the mail (which happened four separate times to me, and they billed me for all four when I cancelled.)

On Netflix's side, I bet they'd be thrilled, because their costs would go down. Less shipping costs, less printing costs, no more paying people to sort incoming DVD's, etc. If they can cut their own costs while increasing services to the consumer, they might not raise prices anyway, and still raise profits.

Re:I'll try it (1)

Belisarivs (526071) | about 10 years ago | (#10403276)

Will the saving of shipping/sorting costs really be made up? They'll have to spend a lot of money on a network infrastructure to accomodate the load. Severs/pipes for pushing out movies to the NetFlix/Tivo subscriber base can't be that cheap.

Re:I'll try it (2, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | about 10 years ago | (#10404159)

Network bandwidth is _cheap_ compared to paying actual live people to open envelopes all day long. You are forgetting that labor costs are the most expensive part of most businesses, and I'm sure Netflix is no exception.

Re:I'll try it (2, Insightful)

warpSpeed (67927) | about 10 years ago | (#10404425)

Network bandwidth is _cheap_ compared to paying actual live people to open envelopes all day long.

Network bandwidth is cheap unless you are Cox, Adelphia, Time-Warner, etc. They may end up shutting people off for pulling down large movies on a regular basis.

I would suspect that with the MASSIVE amounts of bandwidth that NetFlix could end up pushing it would be in their best interested to peer directly with the large cable providers so that both parties can reduce their costs.

Frictionless economy. (2, Insightful)

ahfoo (223186) | about 10 years ago | (#10403278)

But you see, here is the whole crux of the issue. If it really does cost next to nothing to distribute video over the Net, especially with the user subsidizing the connection, then how do you justify the prices?
You can't --well at least not without resorting to sunday school guilt tactics that might sound nice in an on-line forum but don't do shit in the real world where the average person is far too cynical. So you can't convince the consumer that it's wrong to redistribute. The only thing you can do is play the DRM game, but obviously encryption is worthless when you're sending your precious "secret" to an audiance that has no interest in preserving the secret.
Asking the consumer to pay for the bandwidth AND the content simply will not work. A more likely business model is an ISP offering free movies to keep subscribers --and considering it an honor!
Digital content is worth the cheapest media it can be printed on and I just bought a stack of DVD+Rs 4Xs for 16cents a piece. No shit.

Re:I'll try it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403318)

With the broadband delivery...the movie you want is always available

Is it really? I doubt the movie industry will let them get away with unlimited distribution of movies. I'm sure they are going to have to purchase a fixed number of licenses for simultaneous distribution. Once they reach that limit, the movie is out of stock until someone erases it from their TiVo. Of course, because it's on TiVo and not mailed, you will get a faster turnaround time, so the movie will be back in stock quicker (assuming the faster turnaround time doesn't mean netflix will order fewer licenses).

Re:I'll try it (-1, Flamebait)

blackmonday (607916) | about 10 years ago | (#10403550)

I call bullshit. Netflix doesn't charge for movies lost in the mail. I've had only one lost, and my buddy had so many stolen that they cancelled his membership, but they don't charge you for them.

Plus, he wants to give you a free PC to try Blockbuster? Umm, yeah.

No, that's not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403919)

With the $22/mo plan, you get 3 movies out at a time. Unless you sit down and watch 6 hours of movies in one sitting, you have a steady stream of movies coming and going.

It's called buffering.

By the way - I've had a couple of movies get lost in the mail, and the only thing Netflix did was send them out again. No charges.

I think if you are chronically "losing" movies though, they will request that you cancel your membership.

now thats funny! (1)

apachetoolbox (456499) | about 10 years ago | (#10404173)

If they can cut their own costs while increasing services to the consumer, they might not raise prices anyway, and still raise profits.

Don't forget this is a for-profit company, they'll charge more no matter what.

Re:now thats funny! (1)

karmatic (776420) | about 10 years ago | (#10404603)

This is simply not the way companies work.

They are for-profit - as such, their goal is to make as much profit as possible. While raising prices _may_ make them more money, that is not necessarily the case. If Krispy Kreme started charging $100/donut, they would make less money due to the customers you lose.

Keeping the prices the same, while cutting costs, makes a great deal more sense. Profit goes up, and you don't have customers leave because of price hikes. Plus, it leaves you in a better position when your competition decides to drop the price.

Re:I'll try it (1)

Ionizer7 (814098) | about 10 years ago | (#10403246)

If anything it should be cheaper (netflix that is), I would assume that the first class postage is the biggest hit for netflix, with this service, content is delivered for free. Maybe knock down the price of the subscription a little bit?

Re:I'll try it (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | about 10 years ago | (#10404384)

You forgot to figure in your BB bill, for me, that's $54 a month ($10 extra penalty for NOT subscribing to CATV)

And if you get carried away, you BB carrier may TOS you for exceeding bandwidth.. :\

Re:I'll try it (1)

brw215 (601732) | about 10 years ago | (#10404568)

yes. But if you could stop getting physical DVDs from Netflix and just watch everything through your Tivo would you do it for the same price? Thats the 1,000,000 question. If that is a yes there is a benefit to all parties involved.

Couple of things. (5, Interesting)

Eeknay (766740) | about 10 years ago | (#10403141)

First, we have the inevitable piracy argument, that you can rip the movie fairly easily to a computer for all others to see, especially since there's no protection like a DVD could possible give.

Second, what about all those different versions of movies? Will they offer, for example, the Return of the King Theatrical *and* EE version? The primary concern here is both the time it takes to download, since many people have varying speeds of connection, and whether or not TiVo/Netflix can keep up with demand from thousands (millions?) of customers all wanting the same movie when it just gets released.

And in regards to length of movies, what about storage capacity on the TiVo? Won't it fill up awfully quickly given a certain amount of movies downloaded rather than purchased on DVD?

Re:Couple of things. (4, Insightful)

the unbeliever (201915) | about 10 years ago | (#10403161)

I doubt people are going to keep these movies around on their TiVo indefinitely. Besides, how big could it be? TV recording is understood to be ~1gb/hour, one can assume these movies will be in the TiVo format, so the same size rules would apply. I doubt anything is larger than 4gb.

Besides, if you run out of room you can always hack your TiVo.

Re:Couple of things. (1)

LordKronos (470910) | about 10 years ago | (#10403364)

Yes, but the 1GB/hour quality is horrendous (at least for stand alone, not DirectTiVo). I would NEVER pay to rent stuff that crappy. You get better quality renting an abused 5 year old VHS cassette that has been through way too many hungry VCRs. The only hope there is if they can do better compression on the server end (compression which would be too CPU intensive for the TiVo to do real time, yet the TiVo is capable of decompressing on the fly)

Re:Couple of things. (1)

topham (32406) | about 10 years ago | (#10403412)

1G and hour on the lowest quality setting.

Tivo uses MPEG-2, which means it is likely they could upload a file-converted (but not recompressed) DVD movie with the original quality intact. That would put it at about 2G/hour.

Re:Couple of things. (1)

erick99 (743982) | about 10 years ago | (#10403166)

You make a valid point though I think that if the ability to download movies drives the sales of more expensive Tivo units for new subscribers and perhaps some sort of profitable storage upgrade for existing customers Tivo won't be unhappy.

Distributed downloads (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403254)

Tivo could easily create a distibuted download system. A great model would be to give users a discount on their bill if they agree to provide a portion of their bandwidth for sharing the movies. The P2P work has already been done it would be trivial to extend the Tivo OS to serve movies on a P2P network of other subscribers. Of course you'd have to have logic built in so the user was not affected by another user accessing a portion of a movie from their harddrive. All trivial I think.

Re:Couple of things. (1)

CdBee (742846) | about 10 years ago | (#10403283)

And what happens when you want to upgrade your tivo to a new or competing model? I'd give good odds you can't just copy the movies across.....

Re:Couple of things. (2, Interesting)

tdemark (512406) | about 10 years ago | (#10403361)

First, we have the inevitable piracy argument, that you can rip the movie fairly easily to a computer for all others to see, especially since there's no protection like a DVD could possible give.

Umm... how it is any different than Netflix today? I know people with Netflix accounts and all they do is order DVDs, copy them (removing Macrovision and Region in the process), and then send them back. These people have huge DVD collections and it really only cost them the media and a few months of Netflix.

- Tony

Some answers (1)

Idou (572394) | about 10 years ago | (#10403439)

#1 Well, yeah but isn't it much more likely that content providers will agree with a closed set-top solution than a PC with some DRM features? MS is pushing the latter, so I guess they are at least in a better position than MS is . . .

#2 Couldn't they just create some kind of closed bittorrent software within Tivio to deal with this? They control the hardware, so they probably could make it pretty secure from leachers. That way, the more demand, the more bandwidth.

#3 Uh, yeah but it is probably not going to be DVD quality (couple Gb download for 1 movie?). And if it is, maybe they are expecting people to eventually delete the movies (I though Netflix was like a rental service, or something)?

Physical Medium (4, Interesting)

F7F7NoYes (740722) | about 10 years ago | (#10403145)

The deal with TiVo will give Netflix an alternative distribution strategy, Devar said. The company believes DVDs will continue to be the dominant medium for movies over the next few years, but the deal with TiVo gives Netflix a start down the road toward the delivery of movies over the Internet, she said.
I work in the rental industry, In my opinion the masses still like tangible goods. While the DVD is dominant now, another physical delivery method will replace them, not delivery over the internet. It would work for a few demographics but even my grandmother owns a DVD player. She will not be getting this service however.

Re:Physical Medium (3, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | about 10 years ago | (#10403183)

Remember when your grandmother owned a VHS player and wasn't interested in a new fangled DVD player? The early-adopters pave the way and interest level for the rest of the population. Getting away from physical media for movies is a natural evolution of the industry. I will admit though, that a lot of folks will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into this particlular "future."

Re:Physical Medium (2, Insightful)

F7F7NoYes (740722) | about 10 years ago | (#10403217)

But the early adopters in this case, the techies, are already getting DVD quality movies over the internet, and for a lot less that whatever this will cost. How is Napster 2.0 doing anyway?

Re:Physical Medium (1)

erick99 (743982) | about 10 years ago | (#10403229)

It's not the quality that is at issue, it's the evolution of delivery. Napster is doing okay for the most part though iTunes and Real and others are doing better. Just more proof that "media less" is the future.

Re:Physical Medium (2, Insightful)

GreyPoopon (411036) | about 10 years ago | (#10403228)

Remember when your grandmother owned a VHS player and wasn't interested in a new fangled DVD player?

I must be getting old. No, I don't remember that because I don't think my grandmother was ever aware of DVD technology. What I remember is when my grandparents bought this new fangled VCR and couldn't even manage to

  1. Set the clock to make it stop flashing
  2. Scan through the channels
  3. Understand that in order to watch a movie, the video signal had to be on "VCR" rather than "TV" or "Cable" or "Ant".
  4. Understand that in order to record a television show you had to set the VCR itself on the channel you wanted to record (I don't think they ever ended up recording ANYTHING)
  5. Figure out that you can actually record one show while watching another. (OK, I'll grant this was probably too advanced for many VCR users)
Thank you for making me feel old.

Re:Physical Medium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403345)

Understand that in order to record a television show you had to set the VCR itself on the channel you wanted to record.


Re:Physical Medium (1)

iantri (687643) | about 10 years ago | (#10403751)

It's not as ridiculous as it sounds..

I think the confusion comes about because people don't understand that the TV and VCR have seperate tuners; they tune the television to the channel they want to record and then don't understand why it doesn't happen.

For the techno-illiterate, this could be extremely confusing. I expect the grandparent meant that his grandparents would change the TV to the channel they wanted to record. (Because assuming that the VCR will magically figure out itself what channel you want without even turning on the TV is ridiculous.)

Re:Physical Medium (1)

balthan (130165) | about 10 years ago | (#10403344)

I work in the rental industry

So you work at Blockbuster?

Re:Physical Medium (1)

Migraineman (632203) | about 10 years ago | (#10403367)

Hyu-mons have a tendency to trend toward the "instant gratification" solution. TiVo and NetFlix will eliminate the technical hurdles - mostly because it's in their best interest to do so. The'll provide a nifty way to catalog the currently stored movies, to display status of the TiVo, etc. If you can get the TiVo working in the first place, the rest will be pretty effortless.

BTW, your grandmother isn't in the target audience, so using her as support for your arguement is irrelevant. The entertainment industry has already abandoned her, and doesn't really expect any revenue potential out of her. She can go rent DVDs if she chooses, and that option will be around until broadband to the home is truely ubiquitous. It'll take another two or three generations to purge the "tangible goods" mentality from the mainstream ... but it will happen.

The physical media will always be present, however. Portable devices like camcorders will see to that. It's the distribution medium that's changing. Up until recently, there hasn't been a viable alternative. To say that "poeple will always do this because that's what we do today" is terribly shortsighted. I personally despise going to the video rental store. It's a PiMA, and I have better things to do with my time. In fact, that's the crux of my arguement - I can't replace time, so anything that makes my time usage more efficient is desirable.

Fascinating . . . (0)

Idou (572394) | about 10 years ago | (#10403498)

How much money does your grandmother spend on movies?

Re:Physical Medium (1)

Steve525 (236741) | about 10 years ago | (#10403655)

You can't be serious. That's why no one ever rents movies, and the movie rental business was a complete failure.

If you are comparing a download to a purchase of DVD, then you are right. If somebody wants to buy something (a movie or music), then they want a tangible object. However, comparing this to a rental I don't think people care if it's bits are on harddisk or a physical object. Either way, the bits will be gone in a couple days anyway.

The Key Quote" Secure This Content" (5, Insightful)

KrisHolland (660643) | about 10 years ago | (#10403156)

"The companies are planning to work together on technology that will secure this content, she said."

Here is a clue, if I can view it then it is not secure nor will it ever be secure enough.

DRM is the crazy idea of giving me the content, and also the key to view it, but though obfuscation somehow hide the decrypt process. It won't work in the long run [] .

Reminds me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403169)

Of the shareware versions of Quake you could buy, and it also had the full version but you need the code to decrypt and play it. Well, that was probably the first and last time they did that since everyone got a copy after a key generator was made ;).

Hopefully they mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403209)

by "secure" the same thing that Apple means, namely, "make it just hard enough to make copies of content that someone who knows nothing about computers, such as your mother or an MPAA executive, will be unable to do it, meaning the MPAA execs shut up and go away".

Stick It To the Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403227)

"by 'secure' the same thing that Apple means, namely, 'make it just hard enough to make copies of content that someone who knows nothing about computers, such as your mother or an MPAA executive, will be unable to do it, meaning the MPAA execs shut up and go away'."

My mother is a pretty big dits alright, but even she knows how the illegal satalite card works (when it *was* working, it seems to be down now ;) ).

No doubt the tech will get easier, plug a mod chip to the back of the TV and there you go, free movies. Don't under estimate the populuation's desire to get free stuff and stick it to large corporations heh.

Re:The Key Quote" Secure This Content" (2, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | about 10 years ago | (#10403261)

Well the tivo2 is a bit harder to hack, but not impossible. Either way yes, its not totally secure, I heard somewhere something about how tivo is changing their new boxes, or possibly upgrading series2, to make it so pay-per-view movies and other broadcast-flagged content will automatially dissapear after 3 days, but still be recorded. Personally I see this as a reasonable comprimise. The new netflix movies will probably autodelete themselves after you turn them in in order to download new movies. Hopefully it won't delete untill you have fully downloaded and started to watch the newest movies so there isn't the time lag between turning them in and watching the newest ones.

Re:The Key Quote" Secure This Content" (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 10 years ago | (#10403343)

No, DRM wont work in the long run, but its already been proven that the honor system doesnt work either. What do you suggest? They just give up? If that was the case then nothing would have locks, there would be no PIN code for your ATM access, and drivers licenses would be unworkable. Nothing works 100%, but things do work better than 0%, and anything which works better than 0% while doing its job is a success in this arena.

Re:The Key Quote" Secure This Content" (1)

warpSpeed (67927) | about 10 years ago | (#10404476)

but its already been proven that the honor system doesnt work either

The honor system would work if the movie companies where not trying to rape the public.

I would use a distribution system, and pay for using it, if it was not so expensive. The average geek can download (rip) movies and music because the technology is avaiable to him/her to do so. That means that the technology is avaiable for the *IAAs to dramaticaly reduce their costs as well and give better products and service to their customers.

Had they done that, piracy would not be seen as a problem. The honor system will work when there is honor in the system.

Maybe it doesn't have to work for everyone (1)

Idou (572394) | about 10 years ago | (#10403524)

Just for the people that are, too ignorant, too lazy, or too risk adverse (yeah, yeah, or "think steewing is wong" -- joke, k?). As long as this group is signifcant, then so will the returns from investments in DRM.

Interested To See Microsoft's Reply (5, Interesting)

BRock97 (17460) | about 10 years ago | (#10403163)

Chalk up another weapon in Tivo's arsenal for living room domination. One of the final strokes would be for them to make the Tivo the centralized media portal in the house with the ability to run clients on PCs, other TV's, and maybe even the Playstation 2, precisely what Microsoft is doing with Media Center Edition and the Xbox. For Tivo's sake, I hope they play this correctly as it has the possiblity to either make or break the company.

I do wonder, though, if we won't see a similar announcement from Microsoft in the near future. After all, wouldn't a service like this fit perfectly into their growing living room plans? I would think so.

For me, I would love to have this type of functionality from Tivo. The ability to not only stream shows that you have recorded, but movies that you have downloaded from Netflix to any client would probably make me invest in a Tivo setup.

Microsoft's Reply?? (1)

DelawareBoy (757170) | about 10 years ago | (#10403230)

I'm wondering how this really differs from the Media Center PCs with WMP 10 using Movie Central.. Can't you still download / rent the movies?

I thought this has been in effect for a while.

Re:Interested To See Microsoft's Reply (1)

Malc (1751) | about 10 years ago | (#10403425)

My series 1 Tivo already can run clients on a PC and stream to it (mfs_ftp can serve up .asx files to load in WMP, and then stream from there). Not bad for a machine with limited memory and only ~50 BogoMIPs of horse power.

And Will it Make Money? (5, Funny)

ej0c (320280) | about 10 years ago | (#10403176)

I sure hope so, 'cause I'm getting tired of tracking those TIVO shares I bought at $35 thinking it was underpriced..

Whoa! (3, Interesting)

mcc (14761) | about 10 years ago | (#10403193)

Wait, this is a pretty big deal, isn't it? This is basically the fabled iTunes Music Store for Video.

I mean, yeah, there have been net video stores before, but none of them seemed terribly serious, all of them lacked a focus on appealing to traditional consumer rather than (well) people like us, and none of them possessed any pleasant sort of integration with more traditional video technology not based entirely on a computer-- all very much, interestingly, like the net music stores that existed before the iTunes Music Store...

This has the potential to become a big deal and resecure the position as "the PVR" Tivo once had...

Tivo/Netflix =! iTunes parallel: Burn to disk (2, Insightful)

CdBee (742846) | about 10 years ago | (#10403268)

I believe iTunes was such a big thing due to their liberal licencing, they permtted the user to "own" the tracks by copying them permanently to an unprotected CD.

A Tivo may be a nice, reliable bit of kit but ultimately, its a hard drive and as such will eventually fail or be upgraded. If this service locks the media file to the tivo unit - as it certainly will do - then it is more illiberal than iTunes.

Services of this sort really need to recognise that the licence to play the file has passed to the purchaser by allowing backup of the file to unprotected physical media. I love the idea and the convenience but I won't buy into these services until they offer me the kind of long-term security that the uneven pile of DVD cases by my TV offers. If I can play the movie on my PC over a network connection, in a player of my choice, even better.

Until then, DRM encumbers my usage and I take my right as a consumer not to buy, as I may wish to take my DVDs to a friends house to watch them but I draw the line at lugging my Tivo around.

Re:Tivo/Netflix =! iTunes parallel: Burn to disk (2, Informative)

xsecrets (560261) | about 10 years ago | (#10403420)

Well concidering that the service Netflix provides now you don't get to keep the media either I believe it's a good fit. For a rental service I don't mind the fact that the movie stays on the harddrive, or even the fact that it's drm'd and may get erased when I go to download movie#4 or whatever. As long as they tout it as a rental service and keep the cost down they should be good.

Re:Tivo/Netflix =! iTunes parallel: Burn to disk (1)

Steve525 (236741) | about 10 years ago | (#10403726)

Except people rent movies and buy music. (Yes, people buy movies, too, but the rental business is still doing quite well). Don't compare this to a purchase, compare it to a rental.

I have no objections to DRM on a rental. I have not purchased the material; I am only borrowing it for a couple days. I have no need or right to make a backup under these conditions.

Except... (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 10 years ago | (#10403342)

...the iTMS isn't actually much of a cash cow for Apple. It is the iPod that is raking in the dough. What does Tivo has that they make money off this deal? I imagine the MPAA isn't going to leave much margin to Tivo...


DirecTivo (1)

leon.gandalf (752828) | about 10 years ago | (#10403202)

But will it work with DirecTivo????? The damn USB ports aredisabled on the DirecTivo. Time to do some hacking.... but even with the USB ports working.... will this new Netflix deal work.... Expecially since DirecTV uses Blockbuster for thier movie pay per view line up.

This will last just long enough (2, Insightful)

Kushy (225928) | about 10 years ago | (#10403222)

This will just last just long enough till someone cracks the copy protection that Tivo and netflicks agree on. Then the MPAA will come down with the iron fist and all bets will be off and it will just be a memory like Divx DVD's are.

So its a nice idea but it will not last longer then 4 weeks till its cracked and ppl are back to buying plastic disks...

Re:This will last just long enough (5, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | about 10 years ago | (#10403270)

Whether the encryption is cracked or not is irrelevant really. It's not as if you're getting movies that aren't out on DVD. And a DVD is a much easier thing to crack than some format being sent between TIVO & Netflix.

As proof of that, note that you can easily get DVD rips right now. So what's the point of cracking the TIVO system? And even if it is cracked, it seems highly likely that each movie would be digitally watermarked with your account number, TIVO box and other incriminating info. So releasing it out onto the P2P networks seems like a very foolhardy thing to do.

The only benefit from a cracked system is perhaps you could build your own personal jukebox of movies. Again, it's not like you can't do that already so I wonder what the point is.

Re:This will last just long enough (1)

tdvaughan (582870) | about 10 years ago | (#10403419)

Is encoding each film on-the-fly with a subscriber's account number really feasible, hardware-wise? Surely the load on the servers doing that would be prohibitive.

Re:This will last just long enough (2, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | about 10 years ago | (#10403587)

I don't see why not. The speed of the system is obviously network bound, not computational bound. I'm assuming that Netflix would have a library of titles pre-ripped into the appropriate media format. Then it's a matter of sending them over the wire, encrypting / DRM'ing them as you go.

I doubt it would be too tricky to twiddle the odd key frame to insert customer specific data. This could be done overtly as with those annoying dots that some film prints have these days, or covertly by changing some insignificant bits in the video / sound. Or a mix of covert and overt. We're not talking much data here either. I'd guess that 64 bits would uniquely identify every user / box combo in existence with room to spare.

Of course if someone grabbed two hacked movies, a naive scheme might allow them to splice the two watermarked movies into a single 'clean' movie. e.g. compare each frame, identify the different ones and pick the one that looks clean.

So on top of basic watermarking you might also toss in some random salt (e.g. random bits every now and then), vary the embedded id based on some formula, and even imperceptably stretch / compress parts of the audio / video to make it hard to what is clean and what isn't.

It also has to be robust enough that it is discernable even if the video is recompressed. But beyond that you're pursuing diminishing returns.

All you're trying to do is scare your users into compliance. If they really want that movie, there are plenty of easier ways of doing it, including just going out and renting / ripping it. The quality would probably be better anyway.

Oh Man... (2, Interesting)

Omicron (79581) | about 10 years ago | (#10403300)

This is gonna push me over the edge. I've resisted buying a TiVo so far...and I've tried out NetFlix, but I don't like the slow mailing times to receive a movie...I'm more of an instant gratification kind of guy.

This combination could be dangerous for someone like me :)

Finally! (3, Funny)

Toasty16 (586358) | about 10 years ago | (#10403303)

Now I can watch those movies that I'm too embarrassed to let the mailman deliver. Anal Assassins 5, you're next in the queue!

Re:Finally! (4, Funny)

Malc (1751) | about 10 years ago | (#10403440)

Don't worry: your choices will go in to their databases and you will shortly be receiving direct mail marketing material through the postal system. Your mailman will still be delivering embarassing material!

Re:Finally! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403497)

Netflix doesn't rent pron so it's not funny.

Re:Finally! (1)

iantri (687643) | about 10 years ago | (#10403778)

And the movie name isn't printed on the outside of the shipping envelope. (AFAIK.. I am in Canada and use

The joke is still funny though; don't ruin it.

Re:Finally! (2, Funny)

One Louder (595430) | about 10 years ago | (#10404538)

Don't bother - George Lucas really should have stopped with the first Anal Assassins trilogy.

Its really a merger (4, Funny)

cpn2000 (660758) | about 10 years ago | (#10403308)

The new company will be called Titflix ... ducks

Re:Its really a merger (1, Funny)

Spunk (83964) | about 10 years ago | (#10403801)

Why not? That's what I use it for anyway.

Re:Its really a merger (0, Offtopic)

mekkab (133181) | about 10 years ago | (#10404177)

With a user name like "spunk," why am I not surprised? ;)

Re:Its really a merger (1)

jandrese (485) | about 10 years ago | (#10404207)

You must really be disappointed that NetFlix doesn't carry porn anymore, unless you're into pretentous French art house porn at least.

Hurts the MS DRM strategy? (4, Insightful)

Idou (572394) | about 10 years ago | (#10403316)

Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought that was going to be the next big road block MS was going to use to keep consumers from jumping to Linux. By adding DRM to Windows, MS could convince the proprietary content providers to sell their content through Windows. Since Linux is open source, it would be much harder to get large corps to trust a DRM solution for it. Then MS could use DRM as an excuse to force the hardware industry to only create DRM enabled hardware which would not be compatible with Linux. Not only would people not be able to legally watch downloaded movies on Linux, soon it would become increasing diffcult to find good, cheap hardware that was compatible with Linux.

However, it appears that it is simply going to be easier to sell such content services through hardware specifically created for such purposes and not through modified pcs. Not even MS was able to get the PC industry to do a 180 (go from general to specialized hardware by limiting the user's control) fast enough. And, ironically, the specialized hardware approach to content services is being propelled even more quickly by the economics that embedded Linux is making possible.

One might even get the feeling that an imaginary hand is leading Linux/Open Source to wider and wider adoption . . .

Re:Hurts the MS DRM strategy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403766)

Amazing what can be turned into a Linux/Windows debate if you try hard enough.

Re:Hurts the MS DRM strategy? (0)

Idou (572394) | about 10 years ago | (#10403795)

Why, thankyou . . .

Why the focus on digital delivery? (5, Insightful)

BreadMan (178060) | about 10 years ago | (#10403339)

I know that the nifty thing to do for netflix is to deliver the movie and not have to pay the post, but the existing netflix business model still has a lot of other long hanging fruit that could be picked by partnering with TiVo

For example, why couldn't my TiVo:

- Recommend movies for me based on my viewing ordering patterns
I could see what TiVo recommends and just order from my TiVo.

- Offer me the ability to order movies based that I'm currently watching
So I could see a movie commercial-free and uncut if I don't like the way the network has edited it or I don't like the pan and scan. Or recommend a movie related to what I'm currently watching.

- Let me search/browse the NetFlix database and order.
The TiVo has the capacity to keep a NetFlix inventory. Ordering from the TV seems more comfortable way to interact with NetFlix.

- Let me manage my NetFlix account
What movies to I have, how many more could I request, what I've ordered.

Cable Companies and Bandwidth Abuse? (4, Insightful)

superid (46543) | about 10 years ago | (#10403381)

Comcast allegedly has a magic number that triggers an abuse letter to subscribers. It's been purported to be around 100GB of transfer per month.

I assume that the Tivo/netflix movies will be high quality and so probably won't be less than 4GB for a feature.

So in a house with 3 teens and 5 computers I wonder how hard it would be to reach this cap via 10+ movies per month, heavy MMPORPG usage, the new comcast video mail, etc

Re:Cable Companies and Bandwidth Abuse? (2, Insightful)

warpSpeed (67927) | about 10 years ago | (#10404550)

The cable companies are going to have to get used to people actually using more and more bandwidth as time goes on. As more over the net products become available the bandwidth usage will go up.

The smart move if for the cable companies and Tivo/Flix to start peering so as to reduce their networking costs.

Re:Cable Companies and Bandwidth Abuse? (1)

randallman (605329) | about 10 years ago | (#10404697)

Maybe the broadband providers will start to offer pay-per-use service. I've always disliked monthly rate plans. I prefer the way my electricity is billed. If I use less, I pay less and so on.

Will the ISPs be peeved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10403455)

Has anyone thought about the ISPs take on this? How much data will be deemed appropriate for one household to use in a month, 10 GB - 20GB? Will you suddenly start getting terms of service abuse letters because you watched half a dozen moves and exceeded a higher than the usage of other average customers?

Just be glad that you guys (North America) have full rate broadband and no download caps like us poor plebs in the South Pacific (NZ).

DirecTiVo (3, Insightful)

RedX (71326) | about 10 years ago | (#10403460)

Although it's not mentioned either way in this press release, I can only assume that the DirecTiVo will not be supported with this new service since a) there's no official support for broadband on these boxes, b) DirecTV hasn't released new features on these boxes in quite some time (ie. still no official HMO, no official 4.0, etc.), and c) this would compete directly with DirecTV's pay-per-view movies. It's a shame really that DirecTV doesn't keep these boxes up-to-date on the software side, the DirecTiVo is probably the best DVR on the market, particularly the model with HD support. Of course, rumor has it that DirecTV will be turning to an in-house DVR in 2005.

Not that interesting -- it's hype (1)

Didion Sprague (615213) | about 10 years ago | (#10403842)

Frankly, this is bullshit. Just like last year's bullshit about TIVO hooking up with XM radio and the bullshit TIVO implementing some sort of burn-to-dvd capability (yes, I know they've been talking with the studios to work on some sort of TIVOGuard capability for DRM. Whatever.)

I love my TIVO -- don't get me wrong -- but I'll believe the TIVO/Netflix VOD stuff when I see it. And, frankly, I don't think I'll be seeing it -- ever.

The TIVO's dead. Long live the TIVO.

Use NetFlix website? (2, Insightful)

HomeGroove (527053) | about 10 years ago | (#10403887)

Quoth the article:
TiVo subscribers would be able to visit Netflix's Web site and either stream movies over a broadband connection or download them to their TiVo boxes, Kelly said.
I hope this is not the case. In order to be a success, I need to not have to get off my fat ass and go to the computer, sign in, browse, order, and then go to Tivo to watch a movie. The interface needs to be from the Tivo itself.
  • *boo-ga* Tivo Central
  • *boo-ga* Netflix menu
  • *boo-ga* Search by title
  • *boo-ga* A-N-C-H -> Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy (Sidenote: Why does this DVD come out in December?)
  • Streamy goodness
Now, I do see where the website would come in handy to order flicks while at work and have one waiting for you when you come home. And will it be PPV or subscription (or both)?

Awesome (1)

Cirrius (304487) | about 10 years ago | (#10403889)

I was hoping that this rumor was true, glad to see it. I don't see the MPAA getting too bent out of shape, I mean cable companies already stream movies directly to our tivo boxes...

FTTH is a-comin' (1)

gregor-e (136142) | about 10 years ago | (#10403916)

This is the killer app to finally justify fiber to the home. Maybe Level-3 will finally see some justification for all the megamiles of dark fiber its been camping on.

Bye bye HBO/Showtime/Cinemax (1)

Enry (630) | about 10 years ago | (#10403920)

At least as you know them today. If I can get movies via my Tivo, then there's no need to get dedicated movie channels that show the same movie 20 times a month.

At least HBO/Showtime will probably increase the amount of original programming and make it edgier than existing cable. At least until the FCC gets wind of it.

With low quality sound and video ?!?... (2, Insightful)

Osrin (599427) | about 10 years ago | (#10404002)

Without either a digital output for 5.1 or 7.1 sound and a the ability to download and reply HIGH resolution movies this just isn't going to work. I have to hope that they push a new generation of hardware if they ever want to make this service interesting.

Re:With low quality sound and video ?!?... (1)

yagu (721525) | about 10 years ago | (#10404086)

I think it can and will. Tivo has been progressive and creative and way out ahead of the curve (I believe I had one of the very first Tivo's six years ago) while at the same time maintaining conservative sanity, i.e., not spending too much time on the bleeding edge of the TV standards too early. Hence, while HDTV has been around for a LONG time, Tivo has only this year rolled out their HDTV offerings.

While some demand digital outputs, and 5.1, and 7.1, the masses will respond (IMO). Tivo will be there when the curve lifts them to natural buoyancy and the market is ready to drive the demand. But (again, IMO), to borrow a context from Jesus Jones, "right here, right now" the market will be just fine without the 5.1 and 7.1 digital output. But Tivo will be there when it's time.

why all the hype? (1)

AdamGott (802705) | about 10 years ago | (#10404175)

The amount of press that this thing is receiving is ridiculous! How much are they going to charge per movie? And it will surely be DRM'd all to hell and expire in a short amount of time.

ISP's are gonna bitch more than anyone else if downloading DVD sized movies takes off. My ISP (cable) is already throttling those they believe to be 'excessive' downloaders (1 hour of excessive downloading gets you two hours of slower than normal downloading). Other ISP's have been known to drop clients for 'downloading too much.'

Quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10404239)

If I wanted that poor a video and audio quality, you can just rent VHS tapes. It'll probably be cheaper and take less time (to run to the video store and back while the movie downloads).

This won't be cool until I get an HD-Tivo with surround sound and a 400 GB HD.

How about DirecTV Tivo's (1)

Mr Pippin (659094) | about 10 years ago | (#10404284)

Considering that (since I last checked) the latest generation DirecTV Tivo's STILL don't support HMO, I'm sure this option won't be around for this either.

What's the big deal? (1)

Zarniwoop_Editor (791568) | about 10 years ago | (#10404559)

I'm not sure I understand what is so great about this. I can already get movies on demand instantly with my current digital cable subscription. I can call up recent episodes of my favorite shows, pick movies to watch and all delivered instantly.. well, ok.. it takes 15 seconds or so to start, but I don't have a tivo, don't need a tivo. And except for new releases I don't have to pay any extra to do this. So where is the advantage of downloading it to a Tivo?
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