The years of enmity, it seems, are well and truly behind us. Comcast and Netflix have decided that from here on out, they are two great tastes that taste great together, and they’re (finally) taking the deal that puts Netflix content on your Comcast cable box nationwide.
The two companies announced the deal back in July, but without any hint about when the integration would take place and become available to most customers. Netflix became available on the X1 in a beta test for a while in some limited markets in recent months, but still with no public announcement about when the plan would go big.
Well, now it’s public announcement time. Both companies announced today in a joint press release that next week, Netflix will be fully integrated into the X1.
It’s not just going to be an app you can run on your cable box, although it is that still; instead, it’s a full integration as with any other premium channel. If you use your X1’s search function to look for a certain actor, movie, or TV show, you’ll see results not just from the channels you subscribe to, premium networks Comcast carries, and Xfinity On Demand, but also you’ll see Netflix results show up.
It’s a win for both, basically: Comcast gets to keep viewers who want to watch Stranger Things in its ecosystem, and Netflix potentially gets access to more (older) customers who are still gun-shy with streaming-only services. It’s not just the programming that’s integrated, either. Customers who do not have an existing Netflix account can sign up for one directly through the X1, and have Netflix appear as a line-item on their Comcast bill rather than as an independent service.
The partnership a big step for the two, which have spent much of the past few years taking regular, public swipes at one another. In 2014, Comcast was letting Netflix traffic bottleneck so badly that eventually, to keep customers happy, Netflix had to pay up to get access to the bandwidth it needed. (And indeed, three months after entering a paid peering deal, Netflix service had fully rebounded for Comcast customers.)
Also in 2014, Netflix was one of the biggest critics of Comcast’s now-failed attempt to buy Time Warner Cable, claiming that Comcast’s record of past behavior showed that if the company got any bigger, it would have both the ability and the incentive to harm both edge providers (internet-based companies like Netflix) and consumers.
Even as recently as last year, Comcast executive mouthpiece David Cohen remarked that “Netflix is the ultimate frenemy,” adding that it had come to prominence due to a “self-inflicted wound; We have made video too expensive.”
With Netflix increasingly focusing on original programming and content, and dumping its back catalog library of other companies’ TV and movies, it’s able to tip that “frenemy” balance with Comcast more to the “friend” side. The more Netflix focuses on original, exclusive content, the more it becomes just another premium network like HBO or Starz, and the less it’s in competition with Comcast’s own on-demand services or cable platform.
Both Comcast and Netflix are pitching it as a deal that will lead to more customer convenience.
“Netflix has been a terrific partner,” said Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit. “Our incredible teams of engineers and designers have come together to create an experience that is not only seamless and intuitive, but also lets viewers search and watch tens of thousands of movies, shows, specials and documentaries with the sound of their voice.”
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings echoed the sentiment in his statement, saying, “The Netflix integration into the X1 platform means our mutual customers will no longer need to change inputs or juggle remotes. Now they can seamlessly move between the Netflix app and their cable service, enjoying all the TV shows and movies they love without hassle.”
by Kate Cox via Consumerist