When many studios license shows to Netflix they stipulate that the content can’t be distributed in the U.S. through a pay TV operator’s set top box — but that should change, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers told analysts today. Netflix “has clearly risen to the level of a must-have” for consumers who want streamed video. And once Netflix can negotiate changes in its contracts “increasingly we’re hearing operators wanting to include Netflix in their distribution” after years of considering it a threat. It would benefit TiVo if he’s right: Its DVRs can integrate broadband video with conventional cable channels. In September, UK cable operator Virgin Media said that it would include a Netflix app on the TiVo boxes it offers to some of its subscribers — blurring the distinction between the online service and premium channels like HBO. Rogers naturally wants more U.S. cable operators to let TiVo handle their advanced services. Cable “is beginning to pay a price for not having found the right balance [between marketing broadband and video] and not highlighting how video benefits flow from broadband connectivity.” Smaller operators have turned to TiVo while big companies such as Time Warner Cable haven’t. But Rogers says that he doesn’t “see it being sustainable that somebody in suburban Anchorage, Alaska, can have a vastly better advanced television experience than somebody in the media capital of the world living on Park Avenue and 60th Street.”

Asked about Intel’s effort to sell its planned OnCue video streaming service, Rogers says that he hopes the company can persuade someone to pay $500M for it. If that happens, “the implied valuation for what we have would become vastly beyond where we are today.” TiVo has a market value of $1.6B. The problem with Intel’s plan is that it sought to use “the broadband pipe of the cable operator in competition with the cable operator. We said for a long time that we see immense complexity with anybody doing that.” TiVo’s goal is to collaborate with cable since “they do have the unique, robust broadband pipe.”