For as long as Netflix has been available for streaming on customers’ TVs, it's been through third-party set-top boxes, including Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast and various gaming consoles (as well as smart TVs and DVD/Blu-ray players themselves). Which meant that any viewers wanting to enjoy the service's original content like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black on their living room TV, had to invest in one of those methods.
More recently, Netflix has made itself available directly through a handful of smaller, regional cable providers, such as Cablevision and satellite providers like Dish Network. But now, Netflix’s cable integration is about to take a huge leap, with new availability on the nation’s largest cable provider.
Netflix will be available directly through Comcast’s X1 Cable Box starting later this year, Comcast and Netflix announced Tuesday. After what seemed like cable providers agreeing to resist the influence of Netflix and other third-pary streaming, the companies issued a joint statement (via Recode) announcing the partnership:
"Comcast and Netflix have reached an agreement to incorporate Netflix into X1, providing seamless access to the great content offered by both companies. We have much work to do before the service will be available to consumers later this year. We’ll provide more details at that time."
Financial terms of the transaction - which presumably involved Comcast paying Netflix some amount - have not been disclosed, nor is it clear what type of work is needed to make the technology available to users between now and the end of the year.
This is a big deal for several reasons, not the least of which is that Comcast is the nation's largest and most powerful cable provider. The news also marks the culmination of several trends concerning how media consumers receive their content. In making Netflix available through its boxes, Comcast is aiming to stem the cord-cutting tide and also cut out the middle man for cable subscribers who are considering buying Rokus or Apple TVs. At the same time, as the FCC has recently relaxed restrictions as to which entities can make and sell cable boxes, Comcast is adding an additional selling point to its X1 box.
Now, is there a large universe of potential Netflix subscribers who aren’t already getting their streaming another way, whether it’s a streaming box or a mobile device? That’s unclear. But it is clear that Comcast has taken a huge step to defend its hold on the living room.
Netflix capability on Comcast’s X1 platform will arrive later this year.