TiVo + Netflix: A marriage made in heaven

I'm so happy I could plotz.

According to the New York Times, two of my all-time favorite product/services are teaming up. To wit:

Netflix will place its Watch Instantly streaming-movie service on TiVo’s HD-compatible set-top boxes, furthering the technology industry’s goal of sending television shows and movies over the Internet — instead of over traditional cable and satellite networks — to ordinary TVs.

Four years ago I predicted that the killer home entertainment combo would be Netflix movies on a TiVo settop box. And, lo and behold, it has finally come to pass.

(I reminded my wife of this, who proceeded to tell me she'd predicted this four years ago and I stole the idea from her. This is what happens when geeks marry.)

Last night I was watching Season 1 of Mad Men on DVD (from Netflix, of course). The show is set in the early 1960s, when a TV was still a weird and fascinating thing to have in your living room. There are several scenes with people curled around the tiny black-and-white cathode ray tube, mesmerized by the flickering images. The notion of having to wait for a favorite show to come on TV and then watch it in that moment seemed so... quaint. I can't remember the last time I watched a show "live."

(Actually, I can -- it was one of the presidential debates. But only because I spent the whole debate Twittering, and I needed to keep up with my fellow tweeters. Did I mention I was a geek?)

You can thank TiVo for that. I record everything ahead of time, just so I can control when and how I watch stuff (and skip through the obnoxious commercials.) As I've written elsewhere, the TiVo is one of my five top gadgets of the last five years, and maybe of all time. 

Of course, no marriage is perfect. (Sorry, dear.) Netflix's Watch Instantly service is cool -- and with the addition of Starz content a lot better than it was a few weeks ago. But it's far from a complete serving of Hollywood's finest. It's wildly inconsistent and occasionally maddening -- why is season one of some shows available but not season two, for example?

Meanwhile, this service will initially be available only to owners of TiVo's pricey HD-compatible Series 3 settops. According to the Times, it will be rolled out to all TiVo owners next month -- unless you get your TiVo service via someone like DirecTV or Comcast. Then you're out of luck.

Despite being the best at what they do, both TiVo and Netflix have been struggling to survive against much bigger competitors. Here's hoping this partnership lets the underdogs win one for a change.

What's your favorite gadget or service? Nominate them below or email me direct: dan (at) dantynan (dot) com.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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