& cplSiteName &

Comcast-TWC Deal Stalls Netflix Cable Push

Mari Silbey
2/18/2014
50%
50%

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
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/18/2014 | 5:38:56 PM
Unfortunate
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.
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
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. 
Phil_Britt
50%
50%
Phil_Britt,
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.
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
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.
From The Founder
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
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 Interviews
AT&T: Creating Dynamic Networks to Meet Business Needs

5|26|17   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


As enterprises need more dynamic networks, service providers need to deliver on-demand, virtual services to meet those needs. AT&T is creating a networking fabric to mix-and-match SDN technologies for enterprise customers, says Roman Pacewicz, AT&T senior vice president for offer management and service integration, in an interview at Light Reading's
LRTV Interviews
EdgeConneX on Industry Headwinds & Tailwinds

5|26|17   |   2:41   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017, EdgeConneX CTO Don MacNeil discussed the value of partnerships in the digital world.
LRTV Documentaries
4 Steps Toward a Higher Network IQ

5|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, EXFO CEO Philippe Morin explains how sensors and analytics can boost a network's intelligence and enable on-demand customer experiences. Find more BCE 2017 coverage here.
LRTV Interviews
BT's McRae Sheds Light on 4K Strategy

5|25|17   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017 in Austin, Texas, BT Group's Chief Network Architect Neil McRae talks about what it took for BT to broadcast live sports in 4K. Catch up with all our BCE coverage at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
From the Founder
How the NIA Aims to Advance NFV

5|25|17   |   08:07   |   (1) comment


Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
LRTV Custom TV
Better Solutions That Address Growing Scale

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


For Comcast, the X1 rollout and 17-fold increases in broadband speeds in the past 16 years are among factors driving the need for Energy 2020 solutions that reduce cost and consumption, says Mark Hess.
LRTV Custom TV
Ethernity Network Delivers Instant Offloading of Network Functions With All-Programmable Intelligent NIC

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


David Levi, CEO of Ethernity Networks, explains that programmability of the hardware makes the company's All-Programmable Intelligent NIC uniquely beneficial for communications service providers that need advanced data appliances with agile support of virtualization. Utilizing the company's patented network processing technology, Ethernity offers data path ...
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Vodafone Gets Obsessed With Cloud-Native

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


Vodafone's Matt Beal updates us on Project Ocean and explains why simple virtualization isn't enough of a goal for network transformation. Catch up with other BCE 2017 keynotes and news at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Intel's Take on Network Transformation

5|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In this BCE 2017 keynote, Lynn Comp discusses Intel's vision for areas such as analytics, automation and service assurance. For more videos and BCE coverage, see http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
Order From Chaos: The Steve Saunders BCE Keynote

5|24|17   |   17:27   |   (0) comments


Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability testing.
Think of this as the video sequel to the recent columns he's written about NFV and the prospect of a telecom app store. (See

LRTV Documentaries
Service Provider Panel: Partnering in the Digital Era

5|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Coopetition has always been part of telecom, but the ecosphere now includes data centers, vendors, apps developers, cloud service providers and Internet content providers. This BCE 2017 panel explores the new attitudes among network operators as to the value and variety of ...
LRTV Interviews
Site Demo: AT&T's IoT Flow Platform

5|19|17   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


At AT&T's R&D center in Tel Aviv, Israel, project leader Eyal Segev talks about the operator's Flow platform and how it helps to prototype IoT applications.
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/23/2017
What's Blocking 4K TV Today
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 5/22/2017
Sonus & Genband Finally Combine to Form $745M Company
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/23/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Animals with Phones
What Brogrammers Look Like to the Rest of Us Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.