Netflix’s streaming service will be available on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 devices starting next week — a move bringing together two erstwhile adversaries that could provide a bump in Netflix’s total U.S. subs.
Comcast will let non-Netflix subs sign up for the subscription VOD service directly through X1 on TV, including a one-month free trial for eligible consumers. Comcast customers will then be billed for Netflix at the standard rates ($9.99 per month for the most popular two-stream HD plan).
Existing Netflix subscribers can simply sign in to the service via X1 using their username and password.
With Comcast’s X1 integration, Netflix could potentially sign up 4 million to 5 million new subs, according to an analysis by Cowen & Co. analyst John Blackledge. The cable giant will have between 9 million and 11 million video subs with access to Netflix through the X1 set-top box; currently about 58% of Comcast X1 subs are Netflix paid subs, per Cowen’s estimates. As of the end of September, Comcast had 22.43 million video subscribers nationwide.
The cable giant says “Comcast billing of your Netflix charges is provided as a convenience to you.” Terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, but Netflix may be paying Comcast a one-time bounty fee for new subscribers acquired through the MSO.
With Netflix on X1, cable customers can browse and access Netflix TV shows and movies alongside the live, on-demand, DVR and web programming included with their Xfinity TV subscription. Netflix content will be “fully integrated” into Xfinity On Demand, letting X1 customers watch past and current seasons Netflix original series like “House of Cards,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “Stranger Things” from the same menu with past and current seasons of popular TV shows on Comcast VOD.
“The Netflix integration into the X1 platform means our mutual customers will no longer need to change inputs or juggle remotes,” said Reed Hastings, Netflix co-founder and CEO. “Now they can seamlessly move between the Netflix app and their cable service, enjoying all the TV shows and movies they love without hassle.”
For Netflix, the Comcast pact is one of its biggest deals with a pay-TV operator to offer its service to cable or satellite customers, along with recent its agreement with John Malone’s Liberty Global (which owns the U.K.’s Virgin Media, an early Netflix integration partner). In the U.S. Netflix has a similar distribution deal with Dish Network for the satcaster’s Hopper DVRs, as well as with several smaller U.S. cable operators.
X1 customers can launch the Netflix app by simply saying “Netflix” into the voice-enabled remote; browse Netflix content alongside other VOD movies and shows; and search for an actor like “Adam Sandler” or “Kevin Spacey” and see all the titles they appear in across both Xfinity and Netflix catalogs.
Comcast and Netflix buried the hatchet this summer, announcing their integration partnership, after a contentious spat over bandwidth and network neutrality just two years ago.
Netflix in early 2014 said it “reluctantly” reached a deal with Comcast to pay the cable operator for dedicated bandwidth to deliver its streaming video. It also actively lobbied against Comcast’s proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable, arguing that would give Comcast “more anticompetitive leverage to charge arbitrary interconnection tolls for access to their customers.” At the time, Comcast had accused Netflix of seeking to shift delivery costs to all broadband users rather than just the streaming provider’s customers.
Comcast provides more info about Netflix on X1 at xfinity.com/netflix.