Atlantic Broadband, Grande Communications and RCN have followed the lead of their European MVPD counterparts and added Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) as an app on TV lineups available through their TiVo-enabled set-top boxes. Netflix predicted the announcement of a U.S.-based set-top integration during an earnings call earlier in the week.
It's still not quite as easy as signing up for cable TV, but customers of the three MVPDs who subscribe to Netflix will now get that service along with linear TV, on-demand and other Web controls via a single device provided by the cable company. The deal makes Netflix another option on the TV menu and removes the need for multiple devices to get Netflix's over-the-top content.
"Now, watching Netflix is as easy as changing the channel," David Isenberg, chief marketing and strategy officer at Atlantic Broadband said in a press release, calling Netflix a "tremendous complement" to Atlantic Broadband's existing TV lineup. "Integrating the world's leading Internet TV network with the world's best DVR platform underscores our commitment to delivering customers what they want--instantly."
Jim Holanda, CEO at RCN and Grande Communications pointed to those companies' 110 Mbps Internet provisioning as an important reason to add Netflix to the mix "via a simple, unified device."
For TiVo, which has been mixing and matching Netflix applications throughout the world with Virgin and Com Hem, the "marriage of linear television and streaming OTT TV is the future of television," said CEO Tom Rogers. "TiVo is the common technological thread bridging the gap for the first time here in the U.S., between operators and OTT services to help them deliver a superior and more complete offering to their subscribers."
In a letter to shareholders accompanying first quarter earnings results, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells predicted that the MVPD-TiVo-Netflix relationship was about to bloom in the U.S. The pair predicted that the relationship would start with MVPDs that use TiVo-enabled set-tops--as is the case in Europe--"and try to extend to non-TiVo devices after that."
The Netflix executives added that MVPDs "would rather have consumers use Netflix through the MVPD box and remote control than have consumers become accustomed to watching video from a smart TV or Internet TV device remote control."
Not all MVPDs apparently agree. Netflix is moving into an increasingly contentious relationship with Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) over how its content is handled on Comcast broadband and whether Comcast should have the right to acquire Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) for $45.2 billion. Some of that battle came to light in February when sources told Bloomberg that a deal similar to the one Netflix just announced was in the works with Time Warner Cable but that it had been stifled by the Comcast acquisition.
In October, Hastings told shareholders he was hopeful the company would reach a deal with Comcast. That, almost certainly, has fallen by the wayside.
- see this press release
- see the Netflix Q1 letter to shareholders
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