Virgin Media Agrees to Play Ball with Netflix, Inks Historic Partnership

/ Sep 10, 2013


Historically, pay-TV providers and streaming services like Hulu and Netflix have been at odds. For many cable companies, streaming services have the potential to be a serious threat to their business model, especially as subscribers continue to cut the cord and go on-demand, all the time.

So it’s not often you see the two working together, but Virgin Media, ever the innovator, is doing exactly that.

Announced yesterday, Virgin Media will soon add a Netflix app to its Virgin Media TiVo platform. Integration of the Netflix app will allow Virgin Media TiVo households to stream content straight from the subscription service, similar to how one uses the traditional Netflix app found on most video game consoles, connected TVs, and various streaming boxes.

Initially, this Netflix capability will be available to a test group of 40,000 U.K. households, before the app is rolled out to all of Virgin Media’s 1.7 million TiVo users.

What makes this partnership even more interesting is that Virgin Media TiVo subscribers will be able to search for live cable programming and Netflix’s on-demand content simultaneously.

It’s a bold move saddling up to a potentially disruptive competitor like Virgin Media has. However, with the increasing popularity of streaming platforms like Hulu and Netflix, cable providers may need to play along before it’s too late.

And as for Netflix, the company has long made public its ambitions to be the next HBO. If a major cable provider in the UK is willing offer Netflix content alongside cable channels, the result will only fuel Netflix’s aspirations. It will get really interesting if (and maybe when) a US-based cable provider chooses to add Netflix to the TV bundle. Then those HBO dreams won’t be as far-fetched as some still believe them to be.

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