Virgin Media has been relatively quiet on the broadband innovation side, but it has not rolled over and died, the recent agreement to bring BT Sport to its cable TV customers has been followed up with the signing of a deal that will bring the Netflix app to the TiVo set-top box.
Now many will say, what is the big deal, you can get Netflix on a number of devices already such as the Xbox 360, the difference with it being a native app on the TiVo is that it will have access to the broadband bandwidth specifically reserved for the TiVo that is independent of the cable customers broadband connection.
Virgin Media already has an extensive range of catch-up and on-demand content, through its own libraries and Picture Box for example. Existing Netflix customers will be able to use their existing login details, or people can sign-up via the app, levering the Netflix experience to those who have not embraced the second screen viewing habit. As things stand the app has not rolled out to all TiVo boxes, but is part of a 40,000 household pilot and once the pilot completes full roll-out will be later this year.
As the net neutrality debate grows larger it will be interesting to see how legislators handle scenarios like this that involve IP based delivery on a dedicated channel, which in theory gives Netflix an advantage compared other streaming services that are using the public facing broadband connection. Slightly different but still within the 'every IP application should be treated equally' debate could also be aimed at the IPTV content that is multi-cast as part of BT TV service to the fibre street cabinet.