In a stunning change of position for two companies notorious for fighting like cats & dogs, Re/code has revealed plans for Comcast to bring Netflix to their X-1 set-top boxes later this year. Once complete, Netflix users with X-1 boxes will be able to log-in via an app on the platform.
The streaming provider has made similar arrangements with both smaller cable networks here in the US, and larger ones internationally. They also have partnerships with Apple TV, Roku, and Google Chromecast. However, Comcast bringing Netflix to X-1 signals a drastic change of position for both companies (Netflix CEO Reed Hastings once basically referred to Comcast as an “ISP troll” on the company’s blog).
While the agreement is a big win for viewers, and Netflix, there doesn’t appear to be much upside for Comcast—on the surface.
On a larger scale, however, Comcast bringing Netflix into its own platform could be nothing more than a signal to regulators to back off. Netflix has been a loud opponent of the ISPs like Comcast for years. Net Neutrality remains a topic of debate at the FCC; and Comcast, in the least, wants the appearance it is playing nice with one of its biggest proponents.
Then, there’s FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal, made back in January, that cable set-top boxes should work like mobile phones: you pick whichever one you want (instead of “renting” from a particular service), and hook that one into your chosen service provider.
— Tom Wheeler (@TomWheelerFCC) January 27, 2016
With rental fees being big business for cable distributors, this is worrisome. Perhaps, the Comcast/Netflix arrangement is, again, nothing more than an olive branch to those at the FCC & their supporters: one that just happens to come with an incentive for current Comcast subscribers.
More on Comcast bringing Netflix into X-1 boxes as the year rolls on.