Cogeco Cable Inc. will be the first Canadian cable operator to integrate Netflix Inc. into its customers' set-top boxes when it launches its new TiVo service next week.
Montreal-based Cogeco said Thursday it will make TiVo – a digital video recorder or DVR platform – available to its Ontario customers starting Monday.
Cogeco's U.S. subsidiary Atlantic Broadband was among the first three operators in the United States to offer Netflix directly through customers' cable boxes. In April, it announced a deal to integrate the popular online-video streaming service into its subscribers' TiVo service and Cogeco is now bringing that arrangement north.
Customers who subscribe to Netflix will be able to access the service through their digital television box using their remote control. Netflix content will also be included in a search and recommendation function that scans video-on-demand content, recordings and live television shows.
"We have worked closely with TiVo to develop a platform that is customized for Canadian viewers and we are proud to bring it to market today," Louise St-Pierre, president and CEO of Cogeco Cable Canada, said in a statement.
For its part, Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix has been working to win a spot on set-top boxes of traditional television providers as a means of customer acquisition and retention. It has launched on set-top boxes with two European operators and with a handful of smaller operators in the United States. The TiVo platform was the first to support its integration, Netflix said in its quarterly report earlier this month, adding that it is expanding to lower-end systems as well.
Cogeco, which had 808,000 cable television customers in Ontario and Quebec as of May 31, said TiVo will not be available to Quebec customers until next spring as it needs to adjust the interface and recommendation engine for a Quebec audience.
The TiVo service itself lets users record and watch shows in any room, record up to six shows at once and store up to 150 hours of HD content. It also comes with an app for more viewing and recording features on tablets and mobile devices.
The service comes at a cost: Customers must be subscribers to both Cogeco television and Internet packages and must rent a TiVo DVR for $20 per month plus TiVo equipment for each additional television set at $7 per month.
Legacy telephone companies such as BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. have developed IPTV services that allow them to deliver television services over their Internet networks. This has enabled functions such as interoperability between four screens – smartphones, tablets, desktop computers and televisions – more advanced PVR functions and seamless Internet connectivity. (BCE owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail.)
Cable companies, anxious to offer their customers similar appealing functions, are investing in developing IPTV platforms that can operate across their cable systems.
But the technology remains challenging and Cogeco said in July it was scrapping a $32-million investment in an IPTV initiative and would instead offer the TiVo service to Canadian customers.
It said at the time it expected to make TiVo available in February 2015, so the launch for Ontario customers comes ahead of schedule.