Netflix and TiVo have signed an agreement to let TiVo subscribers access Netflix's library of movies over broadband Internet connections in the US.

The two companies are working out with movie studios the details of exactly how the movies will be distributed, said Kathryn Kelly, a TiVo spokeswoman.

TiVo subscribers would be able to visit Netflix's Web site and either stream movies over a broadband connection or download them to their TiVo boxes, Kelly said. The companies are planning to work together on technology that will secure this content, she said.

No time frame for the rollout has been announced, but the service definitely won't be available this year, Kelly said. The deal is not an exclusive one for either company, she said.

Netflix believes the service will be available in 2005, said Shernaz Devar, a Netflix spokeswoman.

The two companies have very close ties. Until Thursday, TiVo CEO Mike Ramsay sat on the board of directors at Netflix, but he resigned from the board as of Thursday's announcement to prevent any conflicts of interest, the companies said.

Netflix lets subscribers choose their favourites movies online and have DVDs mailed to them, which they later return by mail.

The deal with TiVo will give Netflix an alternative distribution strategy, Devar said. The company believes DVDs will continue to be the dominant medium for movies over the next few years, but the deal with TiVo gives Netflix a start down the road toward the delivery of movies over the Internet, she said.