Feeds

Netflix: OK, cable giants, who wants our PIPE stuffed in their BOX?

Seeks deals to come built in on TV set-top boxes, claim insiders

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Streaming-media titan Netflix is reportedly looking to smooth relations with major US cable companies and convince them to make Netflix content available via next-generation TV set-top boxes.

The company has been in talks with cable providers including Comcast and Suddenlink, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing anonymous sources.

The cable giants have rebuffed Netflix's advances in the past, viewing the online service as a competitor rather than a potential partner. But they may be growing more amenable to the idea of a truce in light of the popularity of such Netflix-produced programming as Orange Is the New Black and the Kevin Spacey vehicle House of Cards.

In addition to its original series, Netflix also carries episodes of popular shows that originally aired on cable networks, allowing subscribers to watch reruns on demand.

This streaming model has proven so popular that a growing number of Americans are considering "cutting the cord," studies show, opting to drop their cable TV subscriptions and go exclusively with online streaming services - such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus.

Doing so has been made all the easier in recent years by the emergence of internet-enabled smart TVs, web TV boxes like the Apple TV, and inexpensive next-generation devices such as Google's Chromecast, most of which include built-in support for Netflix streaming.

So far, however, big cable companies have declined to include Netflix support in their digital set-top boxes, opting to push their own on-demand video offerings instead. But that hasn't stopped Americans from signing up for Netflix, which had grown to 30 million US subscribers as of its last quarterly earnings report.

Some analysts believe a deal with Netflix could actually be beneficial for a cable company like Comcast, which in addition to providing pay TV is also the largest home broadband supplier in the US. Customers who watch a lot of streaming online video might be more likely to spring for pricier high-bandwidth data plans.

Yet there may be a sticking point in the negotiations. As a condition of any deal, Netflix reportedly wants cable companies to sign on for its Open Connect content delivery network, which says is necessary for it to deliver 1080p HD video to its subscribers.

Major US internet providers including AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon have so far refused to participate in Open Connect, claiming their existing networking setups are already more than fast enough to deliver what Netflix has to offer.

But companies in other countries have proven more open to the idea, and several – including British Telecom and Virgin Media in the UK, Telmex in Latin America, and Bell Canada and Telus in Canada – have already inked deals with Netflix.

Neither Netflix nor the US cable providers would comment directly on the WSJ report. But at the annual Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in September, Netflix chief financial officer David Wells strongly suggested that the streaming-video provider would like to forge closer ties with US cable firms.

"We would love to reduce the friction to the end consumer and to be available via the existing device in the home, which is the set-top box," Wells said. But he added, "it's up to the [cable companies] to decide how much of a competitor they view us as or a complement and how much they might be willing to do something with that." ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.