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Netflix breaks through with Virgin Media

Tue, 09/10/2013 - 12:53pm
Mike Robuck

Netflix has broken through the pay TV barrier by announcing this morning it will integrate its streaming service with Virgin Media’s TiVo set-top boxes.

Starting this week, Virgin Media subscribers with TiVo set-top boxes will be able to toggle back and forth between Netflix’s streaming library and Virgin Media’s content from the same guide.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has long lusted after a partnership with a large cable or satellite TV provider, but the cable industry in North America has viewed Netflix as a threat.

That isn’t the case with Virgin Media, which plans to offer Netflix’s app to 1.7 million Virgin Media homes with TiVo boxes this year after getting underway with a pilot launch to 40,000 homes this week.

“The UK has given Netflix a fantastic welcome and we’re excited to be partnering with Virgin Media to bring an amazing Netflix experience to Virgin Media customers,” said Bill Holmes, global head of business development, Netflix.

The Netflix app complements Virgin Media’s library of over 6,000 hours of VOD content. After logging in with their Netflix credentials, Virgin Media TiVo customers will be able to search and browse titles across Virgin TV’s entire collection of films and TV programs as well as from Netflix and other content apps including the popular BBC iPlayer.

Through a dedicated broadband connection built into each Virgin Media TiVo set-top box, viewers will be able to access HD content from Netflix. Virgin Media has a range of data tiers including 30 Mbps, 60 Mbps and 120 Mbps in addition to the dedicated TiVo connection.

The Netflix app will be available to all of Virgin Media’s TiVo users by the end of this year.

“We’re delighted to be bringing yet another groundbreaking service onto TV screens in millions of Virgin Media homes,” said Dana Strong, Virgin Media’s chief operating officer. “Netflix is a fabulous addition to Virgin Media TiVo, enabling our customers to enjoy even more of their favorite shows and movies simply and easily – all through their TV set-top box and at outstanding value.”

While Netflix hasn’t been able to land any major pay TV operators in North America, its service is integrated into Google Fiber’s boxes that have launched in Kansa City.

Earlier this year, John Malone-led Liberty Global bought Virgin Media for $24 billion while Malone’s Liberty Media made a $2.6 billion investment in Charter Communications

Charter Communications also has a deal in place with TiVo, but hasn’t announced how TiVo will factor into its long range plans. A spokeswoman for Charter said the cable operator continues to evaluate how it might integrate TiVo’s UI and software into a next-generation video platform.

 

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