Netflix shares dropped more than 9% Monday, after a report that Apple and Comcast are in early talks about teaming up on a streaming-TV service that would be delivered over a dedicated segment of the MSO’s broadband network.
Apple would deliver live and on-demand TV programming over a Comcast’s last-mile broadband networks, with guaranteed bandwidth to ensure high-quality video delivery to an Apple set-top, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous sources.
Investors interpreted the report as potentially giving Netflix a formidable new competitor. On Monday, Netflix shares dropped 7% in morning trading and were down 9.1% to $369.02 per share at 1 p.m. Eastern. [UPDATE: The company’s shares closed down 6.7% for the day, to $378.90 per share, amid a smaller decline in the broader market.] That comes after Netflix’s historically volatile stock surged fourfold in 2013 as investors remained bullish on the company’s growth prospects.
Netflix last month struck a deal with Comcast, under which the Internet-streaming service is paying to directly interconnect to the cable giant’s networks. Last Thursday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings complained in a blog post that his company and other content providers shouldn’t have to pay such “tolls” to Comcast or other ISPs and calling for a “strong” net neutrality that would provide free bandwidth to Netflix.
Netflix has said the deal with Comcast will not change its guidance on operating margins for the streaming service, which had 33.4 million U.S. subscribers at the end of 2013. But Hastings, in his blog post last week, said “in the short term Netflix will in cases reluctantly pay large ISPs to ensure a high-quality member experience.” Comcast and AT&T responded to Hastings’ post, arguing that higher bandwidth costs for Netflix’s video delivery should be shouldered by Netflix.
Apple shares opened up 1% Monday, while Comcast’s stock was trading down slightly.