By Sahil Patel
Maybe the prospect of Netflix showing up on your cable box isn’t as much of a stretch as some people (including yours truly) would tell you.
Speaking at the 13th annual Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in Barcelona, Time Warner Cable CFO Artie Minson said his company was open to integrating Netflix into their set-top boxes. Specifically, when asked if Time Warner Cable, one of the largest cable operators in the US, would consider making Netflix available via its set-tops, Minson said: “We are always open to different conversations.” He added that TWC is always interested in improving its customers’ viewing experience.
… Which is exactly what you would expect anyone in Minson’s position to say.
Just a month ago, there were reports that Netflix was in discussions with Comcast to add its streaming service to the operator’s set-top boxes. When media coverage intensified over the possibility of such a landmark deal, Comcast opted to downplay the reports with Comcast Cable president and CEO Neil Smit saying that adding Netflix was not really a “high priority” for the company.
More than anything else, it seems pay-TV operators are happy to talk about potential deals with Netflix, as long as it’s kept hypothetical. Forget the issues pay-TV operators have with Netflix’s insistence that they adopt its Open Connect technology, which is designed to manage and improve the streaming/viewing experience. Right now, it’s incredibly important to TV networks that they are not “directly” competing with Netflix for TV eyeballs. And since they are the operators’ biggest customers, it’s unlikely that Netflix shows up your cable company’s set-top box.
Hulu, on the other hand, is a different story.