I first saw this on the Tech of the Hub blog last month. Gabe reported that TiVo was working on an update to their Netflix client that would add 1080p support, as well as updating the app in general. I didn’t share it here immediately because Gabe didn’t mention a source in his post, and I’m reluctant to post news like that without knowing where it came from.
So I contacted Gabe and he informed me that he’d emailed TiVo about the Netflix client and that’s what he was told. So I decided to reach out to my own contacts at TiVo before posting the news, and they confirmed it. TiVo is indeed working on a new Netflix client and it will support 1080p streaming. But TiVo is not giving out any release date, or even a rough time frame, nor are they providing details about any other changes.
I pretty much agree with that Gabe postulated in his post. The new client will most likely be written in Flash and only run on the Premiere platform. S3/HD users are probably SOL and won’t see any updates. The client will probably be on par with the current Netflix clients for Roku, PS3, etc. You’ll be able to control your queue, search the entire library, etc. Surround sound is uncertain given the encoding Netflix uses and the HW capabilities of the TiVo box. But there is hope. Closed captions will very likely be supported.
Again, TiVo will neither confirm nor deny any of this aside from the fact that a) there is an update coming and b) it is using the new Netflix SDK and will support 1080p. The rest is conjecture based on the TiVo platform, their recent development activities, the SDK’s features, and the competitive market. TiVo’s Netflix client was leading edge when it launched – in 2008. It hasn’t aged well though, and calls for an update have been increasingly loud. I’m sure S3/HD users will be less than pleased if they don’t get one, but the fact is the Premiere is TiVo’s main revenue stream these days.
I have to wonder if Netflix being excluded from MSO-provided units by contractual issues has lowered the importance of Netflix development for TiVo. Since retail looks to have a decreasing significance for TiVo as MSO deals ramp up distribution, it seems natural that features that are usable by their MSO partners would take priority over retail-only features. In any case, an update is overdue and welcome. I might even subscribe to Netflix since they’re bringing back Arrested Development.