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Netflix inks first pay-TV provider deal with Virgin Media

The company's streaming service will be integrated into Virgin's service through TiVo set-top boxes.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger

Netflix is bringing its streaming service to its first pay-TV provider.

The UK's Virgin Media announced Tuesday that its TiVo customers will now be offered access to Netflix's streaming service. The company plans to launch a pilot program with 40,000 Virgin Media TiVo homes this week, and as long as all goes well, it will expand the offering to its 1.7 million Virgin Media TiVo homes by the end of the year.

According to Virgin Media, the idea to integrate Netflix's streaming service into its branded TiVo boxes comes as the company tries to make it easier for its customers to access content. A search through the TiVo, for example, of a particular actor or movie will deliver results through both Virgin Media's services and Netflix.

The move is by no means groundbreaking -- current pay-TV customers already access Netflix on a wide array of devices, after all -- but it's a psychological victory for the streaming provider. For years, pay-TV providers have attempted to target services like Netflix that they have viewed as threatening to their services. For the first time, a pay-TV provider has seemingly acknowledged the value provided to customers by Netflix.

According to Virgin Media, existing Netflix subscribers will be able to access the app under the Apps & Games section on their TiVo. Customers who want to try out the app and aren't currently Netflix customers will need to sign up with the subscription service before launching the program on the Virgin Media TiVos.