& cplSiteName &

Comcast-TWC Deal Stalls Netflix Cable Push

Mari Silbey

With the ink barely dry on Comcast's deal to buy Time Warner Cable, Netflix is already feeling the effects of one of the industry's biggest proposed mergers on record.

Bloomberg is reporting that talks between Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) to put the video streaming service on cable set-top boxes have been put on hold until TWC's acquisition by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) (which still must be approved by regulators) is completed. That, in turn, could throw a big monkey wrench into Netflix's plans to start taking the US cable industry by storm this year.

Netflix has gained some traction with cable operators in Europe and currently has its streaming service on set-tops from Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) and com hem AB . However, the video rental giant has not been able to close any deals with cable providers in the US. Time Warner Cable was apparently considering an agreement with Netflix, but those negotiations have been put on the back burner now thanks to the Comcast merger deal. (See Com Hem Rolls Out Netflix.)

There are fears in the video industry, especially among content providers, that a combined Comcast/TWC entity would control too much of the television distribution network in the US. It's not just size that's at issue. Comcast is also much more cautious than Time Warner Cable about partnering with alternative platform providers, and much more ambitious about rolling out its own services that are competitive with over-the-top (OTT) offerings.

For example, while Comcast has its own app on the Xbox 360, it hasn't followed TWC's lead in pushing an app out to numerous other video platforms. Comcast has also blocked HBO Go for its subscribers on the Roku box, preventing users from accessing more content from Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) on a Roku Inc. device than they can on a Comcast set-top.

On the services side, Comcast has been aggressive about building up its video-on-demand (VoD) library. Plus, the company's Streampix offering is a first step into the subscription-based VOD rental market, where it competes against the likes of Netflix. (See Comcast Goes OTT to Target Netflix, Hulu Plus.)

Time Warner Cable, on the other hand, has followed a strategy of offering its core video service on as many different video platforms as possible. The company added Kindle Fire tablets from Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) to its distribution list in December alongside iOS and Android devices, Roku players, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Xbox 360, and select Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) connected TVs. There are also rumors that TWC was planning to debut service on the new Apple TV set-top device, which Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is targeting for launch in April. (See TW Cable Says: Just Keep Streaming.)

There is no way to know how Comcast might proceed in talks with Netflix if and when the acquisition of TWC is completed. However, Comcast's track record suggests that Netflix may need to reconsider its near-term plans for a cable partnership. The perspective from the cable industry has changed.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/18/2014 | 5:38:56 PM
I think that's unfortunate, and the X1 would only be better for including additional content options for users. Have been using a Roku 3 for the first time lately and have been very impressed with the myriad of additional channels. I understand Comcast wants to funnel consumers to their own content options and Streampix, but it seems to me like giving consumers some additional options wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for a company with one of the worst customer satisfaction scores in any industry.
User Rank: Blogger
2/18/2014 | 8:20:02 PM
Re: Unfortunate
I agree, Karl. I think one of the best things that TWC has done is give customers these other platforms and options for services. Comcast is fancying itself too much like Apple, but without the same level of customer service. We'll see how much TWC customers complain pnce the deal goes thru. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/19/2014 | 7:37:20 AM
Control of content
The concern over control of content is certainly legitimate, and could be an item that regulators consider closely before letting a deal go through. I'm not sure the objections will hold up in today's environment -- there used to be rules about concentration of media holdings in a local market, but they've gone by the wayside.
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/19/2014 | 7:54:47 AM
Re: Control of content
The Comcast-TWC deal is certainly going to find some valid objections. It may very well be that when the deal solidifies lots of providers may be locked out, like the Netflix deal. Whether regulators will take a careful look at how the merger will play out in reality is of great concern to the industry.
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
John Isch, Practice Director, Network & Voice, Orange Business Services
Friday, November 18, 1:00PM EST
SDN & Open Source
Christopher W. Rice, Senior Vice President of AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design
Wednesday, November 30, 1:00PM EST
SDN & the Software Defined Data Center
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE BBWF Highlights

10|26|16   |     |   (0) comments

At BBWF 2016, ZTE showed a broad range of innovative technologies that are kick-starting an ultrafast broadband journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cliff Grossner on Cloud & Network Synergy From Carrier Service

10|18|16   |     |   (0) comments

Local carriers offer the collaborated cloud and network service that benefits from their understanding of the regulations operating in different vertical markets.
In this interview, Cliff Grossner from IHS Technology talks about how this advanced service can support business agility and flexibility.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live from SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Cyrille Morelle, VeEX's President and CEO, talks with Light Reading's Alan Breznick live from the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016. They discuss DOCSIS 3.1 technology, deployments and early lessons learned. New products on display include the CX350s-D3.1, CX380s-D3.1, CX310, AT2500-3G, FX150 OTDR and MTT WiFI Air Expert.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Attacks Have Major Internet Sites on the Ropes
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/21/2016
Trump: Dump AT&T/TW & Comcast/NBC
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/24/2016
Layer3 TV Comes to Town, Hints at Future
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/21/2016
T-Mobile: AT&T & TW Means Ma Bell Not Focused on Mobile
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/24/2016
Sprint: Revenue up 3%, Capex Will Rise Again
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
'Oh, Were You Looking for This?' Click Here
'I was just playing some games...'
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.