Skip to main content

Netflix sneaks into cable boxes while denouncing Comcast/TWC merger

netflix lays out argument against comcast twc merger netflixbuilding
Image used with permission by copyright holder

On the same day that Netflix became the first major media organization to publicly denounce the multi-billion dollar Comcast/Time Warner merger, the company announced new plans to join forces with cable DVRs sometime this quarter, starting with app support for TiVo’s flavor of set-top control.

In its letter to investors, Netflix touted the success of its move to DVR boxes for so called MVPDs (Multi-channel video program distributors) in Europe, and claimed that this quarter will see the launch of its iconic red app icon in U.S. TiVo boxes first, with plans to move to “non-Tivo devices” after that. Netflix apps are already integrated into TiVo’s direct-to-consumer boxes, and the company now wants to move into boxes tied-in directly with providers.

“From an MVPD point of view, they would rather have consumers use Netflix through the MVPD box and remote control than (from other sources),” the letter states.

That makes a lot of sense. After all, cable and satellite providers have given up trying to woo subscribers away from Netflix. They know their customers will be accessing the site from some sort of device, be it a smart TV, or a set-top delivery method such as a Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast. Since providers can’t stop subscribers from mainlining Netflix content, it would behoove them to keep users on the same device (and input source) that delivers their own live TV content and on-demand programming, allowing a fluid switch between the services. Also – in a more insidious move – it could be that providers would like to track their customers viewing habits a little more closely,

It also makes sense that Netflix would start with TiVo DVRs. Not only are the boxes known for their extremely intuitive interfaces, but they are also the preferred systems of choice for cable providers with close ties to Netflix such as Suddenlink, and RCN. Those partners use Netflix’s proprietary Open Connect system, which employs a direct link to Netflix servers to offer more efficient streaming. Open Connect was Netflix’s home-baked solution to the pressing issue of slower streaming speeds.

Comcast, and other top service providers such as Verizon, and AT&T balked at Open Connect, eventually forcing an unholy union of sorts between Comcast and Netflix, in which Netflix agreed to pay the massive conglomerate undisclosed fees for more direct access to its Internet pipelines. The deal worked, and immediately after hands were shook, Netflix speeds for Comcast subscribers increased by up to 65 percent. However, shortly afterward, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings denounced the agreement as a threat to smaller video streaming services, and Net Neutrality as a whole.

Netflix again railed against Comcast’s penchant for strong arming the media industry as a whole in its letter to investors, saying that the company “…is already dominant enough to be able to capture unprecedented fees from transit providers and services such as Netflix,” and warning that a merger with the second biggest provider, Time Warner, would give the combined services “even more anti-competitive leverage to charge arbitrary interconnection tolls,” for cable and internet services.

Monday’s letter introduced a host of new moves for Netflix, including a proposed price hike of its services, even while the company announced a rise in profits above what was expected by investors, with $53 million in profit, a $3 million increase over the previous year. The price hike, a proposed $1-2 for new customers in the coming months, will help Netflix expand, and keep up with the rising cost of licensing fees for content. Current customers won’t see a price rise in the near future.

Overall, Monday’s letter was a telling look into Netflix’s future, as the company looks to become even more dominant, while also appearing to work towards the preservation of facets that Internet users as a whole hold dear, including Net Neutrality, and fair competition in the marketplace. As Netflix seems to grow bigger by the day, consumers can only hope it remains true to those ideals.

Editors' Recommendations

Ryan Waniata
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Waniata is a multi-year veteran of the digital media industry, a lover of all things tech, audio, and TV, and a…
Best TV deals: LG, Sony, Samsung, TCL, and more
Vizio OLED TV

A new TV can be all the difference between a great viewing experience and simply watching TV. Right now a new TV can make a big difference on your wallet as well, as all of the top electronics retailers have TV deals taking place. And whether you’re shopping Best Buy TV deals, Walmart TV deals, or Amazon TV deals, almost all of the best TV brands are seeing models discounted. We’ve tracked down all of the best TV deals to shop right now, and among them are various sizes that include 65-inch TV deals, 70-inch TV deals, 75-inch TV deals, and 85-inch TV deals. Reading onward you’ll find some impressive Sony TV deals, Samsung TV deals, LG TV deals, TCL TV deals, and more.
TCL 50-inch S4 4K Smart TV — $220, was $260

Value is front and center with the TCL 50-inch Class S4 4K LED Smart TV, as it’s a nice balance of affordability and features. It delivers impressive 4K picture quality with four times the resolution of Full HD, as well as endless entertainment with easy access to your favorite streaming services. Google Chromecast is built right into the TV, allowing you to easily stream movies, shows and photos from your Android or iOS device. It also has 3 HDMI inputs, which makes it great for gamers who need to connect several consoles, or for anybody looking to connect some great peripheral equipment to their home theater.

Read more
Best subwoofer deals: Up the bass for as low as $50
The Klipsch Reference Series 12 on a shelf.

Whether you’ve been shopping the best TV deals or already have a TV that suits your needs, adding some quality audio to the setup can make your viewing experiences more immersive. There are a lot of soundbar deals and Bluetooth speaker deals out there that can help, but if you really want to up the experience you should consider a subwoofer. Even the best subwoofers often see a discount, and top subwoofer brands are seeing models discounted right now. To make the shopping process a little more convenient we’ve rounded up all of the best subwoofer deals below, and if you’re still in search of a TV to pair one with you can also take a look at the current Sony TV deals, Samsung TV deals, LG TV deals, TCL TV deals, and Vizio TV deals.
Dr.J Professional 2.1 channel soundbar with subwoofer system -- $77, was $200

More than just the subwoofer, this surround system includes a versatile soundbar or dual-speaker -- it can be split in half -- offering a versatile audio system. It does featured Bluetooth for wireless connectivity, so you can connect a phone or tablet, for example. You can also plug your TV in via HDMI ARC, optical, or 3.5 mm audio. The 35W bass woofer delivers a nice little kick.

Read more
The 75-inch Samsung The Frame TV is $1,000 off at Walmart
Samsung 2022 The Frame 4K TV.

Father’s Day is one of the best times of the year to score a deal on the some of the best TVs. From QLED TV deals to OLED TV deals, we’ve seen plenty of awesome models hit shelves in 2024, especially when it comes to Samsung TV deals. Speaking of which: You can score an amazing deal on a massive Samsung when you purchase through Walmart. This is a 75-inch Samsung The Frame TV deal, and the sale price is $2,000. That’s $1,000 off the normal cost!

Why you should buy Samsung’s The Frame TV
Taking a look at The Frame, you may notice it’s not your average-looking TV. That’s because Samsung designed this QLED to better fit in with home decor. Rest assured, it’s still meant to be used to watch movies and TV shows; and trust us, your favorite flicks are going to look incredible. But the real emphasis is on cosmetics, which brings us to one of our favorite Frame features: Art Mode. 

Read more