Netflix negotiating US cable delivery deals

Editor | 14-10-2013

Weeks after making the bold step of announcing availability on Virgin Media and Com Hem in the UK and Sweden respectively, Netflix is said to be set to seal deals with equivalent cable firms in the US.

According to reports in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the over-the-top (OTT) leader is negotiating carriage with a number of providers, calling out specifically Comcast and Suddenlink Communications to make its online video service available as an app on their set-top boxes.

Even though the WSJ cautioned that talks are in early stages and no deal is imminent, talk of such a move will inevitably fuel a growing sense that both Netflix and the online video market in general are entering a second phase in their respective evolutions. In the case of Netflix this is from being defined by the platform on which it is available to becoming a key content provider in its own right.

Being able to offer Netflix as a channel would be a considerable competitive advantage for the aforementioned cablecos who, like their peers and other pay-TV rivals, have struggled to come to terms with declining subscriptions and who believe that offering Netflix will spur increased take-up of high value, high speed broadband.

Despite the success with Virgin and Com Hem, Netflix, said the WSJ, has encountered a "hang-up" in the talks with at least two operators by insisting that the cable operators take not only its content but also specialised technology designed to improve the delivery of its streaming video. The technology is said to be part of the Netflix Open Connect programme, comprising special servers that the firm wants to connect directly into broadband providers' networks. Yet the WSJ says that Comcast — as well as Time Warner Cable, AT&T and Verizon Communications —have declined to use the technology, concerned that such an arrangement could lead other online services to ask for similar accommodation.