The venerable and troubled TiVO service has begun Hulu Plus field tests on its line of Premiere devices, according to Engadget. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, it is surveying customers to gauge interest in allowing streaming content using its TiVO for iPad app.

Before getting excited,  we’ve heard news like this before with no results. In fact, it seems like yet another unfulfilled promise from the once proud company.

TiVO In Decline

Despite the huge popularity it gained following the 1999 debut of its first digital video recorder, TiVO has been staring into the abyss for years. This has been attributed to the arrival of cheaper cable boxes and the growing popularity of viewing videos on mobile devices such as the iPad.

When it debuted in March 2010, the Series4 TiVO Premiere was supposed to stop the company’s long slide. While the device includes integrated features such as Rhapsody, Netflix, Amazon, Blockbuster, and YouTube, each has been riddled with problems, which are often criticized by users on the unofficial TiVO messageboard.

It also hasn’t helped that the Premiere’s high definition user interface, which uses Adobe Flash, seems half-finished despite debuting one year ago.

This brings us to Hulu Plus, which was first promised to TIVO customers nearly one year ago.

According to Engadget, some TiVo users have been invited to join a Field Trial to test Hulu Plus on TiVO, along with some codes to get the service for free.

But they state:

“It’s hard to say what kind of gap we’re looking at between the testing period and the go-live period, but at least we’ve got a little assurance that no one simply forgot about their promise.”

What’s happening to TiVo is a shame, especially to longtime customers such as myself. What was once heralded on popular shows like “Friends” as an amazing device has become the butt of jokes.

Is Streaming Content The Answer For TiVO?

Perhaps this is what makes the possibility of streaming content using the TiVo app so important. Could this be the way the company is saved?

The TiVo for iPad app is actually quite remarkable. Despite some early functionality problems, the app’s ability to make the iPad a remote control is amazing.

By adding streaming, it would be even more so. Imagine recording a show on your Premiere box and being able to watch the program on your iPad!

Simply put, this could be a game changer.

The free TiVO for iPad app is available in the App Store.

What do you think? Is TiVo doomed, or could iPad-streaming help save it? Leave your comments below.