Netflix Taps ReplayTV Founder to Head Internet TV Group

Online DVD rental service Netflix, which has made no secret of its plans to get into the movie downloading business, has appointed Anthony Wood to head its newly created Internet TV group. His focus will be on delivering movies directly to subscribers' televisions via the Internet.

Wood has no stranger to streaming content to the living room. He was the founder of ReplayTV, which competed with TiVo for DVR dominance before its acquisition by SonicBlue in 2001. Wood served as senior vice president of engineering and was responsible for the company's ReplayTV and Rio lines.

After his stint at SonicBlue, Wood founded Roku, which builds devices for streaming audio around the home.

"I believe that Netflix is the company best positioned to lead Internet-delivered video," said Wood in prepared remarks. "The company has taken the first step -- and an innovative one -- in offering online video to its members, and I'm here to work with a range of partners to get that video to the television, where consumers watch most of their movies."

Netflix launched instant movie streaming to the desktop as a feature for subscribers in January, but only a limited number of titles are currently offered. The company said in June 2006 it was exploring different ways to deliver movies into the home now that broadband connections have become ubiquitous.

Rumors last year claimed Netflix had settled on a set-top box to deliver movie downloads to customers. But the company at the time said this is inaccurate, and it has made no decisions on how it will roll out such a service. Netflix officials indicated a set-top box is only one of the possibilities.

However, with Wood on board, a set-top box to receive movies over the Internet may be in the cards for Netflix. The company has reportedly worked with TiVo on utilizing the DVR as one platform for movie streaming.

Netflix says it is interested in streaming movies to any Internet-connected device, from high-definition plasma televisions to cell phones. Wood will report to Netflix's chief product officer Neil Hunt.

"Internet-delivered video is an area of clearly rich potential and we intend to be a leader in it," commented Hunt. "The understanding, the expertise and the vision that Anthony possesses in this field are unmatched and we are extremely pleased to have him lead our Internet TV effort."

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