Netflix is targeting a new outlet for its streaming video service: cable TV boxes.
Netflix is in talks with cable TV companies, including Comcast and Suddenlink Communications, to get its streaming app on their set-top boxes, according to a person familiar with the situation.
If the deals happen, that would represent a major thawing in the historically frosty relationship between Netflix and the traditional TV industry.
Netflix lets subscribers watch movies and TV programs through their existing Internet connections, or through smartphones and other wireless devices. The service's increasing popularity has raised concern that consumers may switch off cable or satellite TV services.
However, Netflix has started producing its own content, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, and is increasingly thought of more like an HBO for the Internet, rather than a provider of all programming. That shift makes Netflix less of a threat to traditional cable TV companies.
Netflix has already cut similar deals with Virgin Media in the U.K. and Com Hem, the largest cable operator in Sweden. Any agreement with Comcast or Suddenlink would be a first for the U.S. market.
Netflix shares jumped 7.7% to $323.88 Monday on optimism that such deals would help the company reach more viewers. The Virgin Media agreement will make Netflix available this year to 1.7 million U.K. homes that use a Tivo set-top box to access the pay-TV service.
One potential stumbling block: Netflix wants Comcast and other big cable TV and Internet Service Providers to connect directly with its own content delivery network called Open Connect. But so far Comcast and others have been reluctant to do this.
The talks with Comcast and Suddenlink were reported earlier Monday by The Wall Street Journal. Comcast and Suddenlink declined to comment.
By Alistair Barr and Brett Molina, USA Today
Gannett / USA Today