Reuters reports that Netflix has approached several cable providers about bringing its "Watch Instantly" service to your cable box. That would make Netflix a premium service, much like Showtime or HBO, that cable customers could access for an additional monthly fee, watching Netflix's thousands upon thousands of TV shows and movies on demand. Such a partnership could set the company up to be "the next HBO," bringing its growing content library to cable providers' massive subscription bases. Smart move?
This will never work: Think of the logistical challenges, says Geoff Duncan at Digital Trends. First, Netflix will struggle to find a cable company willing to take it on. Verizon has already linked up with Redbox, and Comcast is rolling out its own streaming service. Plus, the licenses that Netflix has for streaming "do not include rights to deliver shows via cable television." Netflix would have to ink new licensing agreements — otherwise, Netflix-on-cable would have to offer significantly less content than Netflix online.
"Netflix coming to cable boxes?"
And HBO is uncatchable: It sounds like Netflix is launching a losing spending battle against HBO, says Matt Peckham at TIME. In order to be a viable cable competitor, Netflix would have to develop more than just its handful of planned original shows — and ensure they are of HBO-level quality. But HBO has billions of dollars at its disposal; it reportedly spent $10 million on just the pilot of Game of Thrones. Netflix has less than $350 million. "How are they ever going to afford an original programming war?"
"A Netflix cable channel? Right for Netflix, possibly right for us"
Actually, this just might work: "If you can't beat 'em, add them as an additional option to your cable services," says James Plafke at Geekosystem. Cable providers have long viewed Netflix, with its impressive library of cheap content, as a competitor. By bringing Netflix into the fold, cable providers would become more attractive to potential subscribers. And customers who currently pay for both Netflix and cable would probably "prefer to have their bills wrapped up in one tidy location."
"Netflix in talks to offer streaming through cable services"
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