Netflix, the popular film and television streaming service, could be coming to cable boxes. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company is currently in talks with television providers to have the service deployed directly on cable boxes, as opposed to set-top, internet-enabled devices. The rumored deals are by no means close to fruition, but such an arrangement would come with pros and cons for both sides.
While Netflix and cable companies could be seen as competitors in some respects, Bloomberg reports that "Cable operators increasingly see Netflix’s $7.99 monthly service as a tool to attract and retain customers and promote their own on-demand offerings, rather than a threat that will lead users to abandon their pay-TV subscriptions." The service has long been eyed as a threat to classic cable dominance—and their dreaded bundles. The potential arrangements have apparently hit a snag over Netflix's insistence that cable companies adopted their proprietary technology, which the company deems essential.
Cable providers apparently envision a scenario in which "In the event of [a blackout], an operator that had a deal with Netflix could direct subscribers to programming from the blacked-out channel that appears on Netflix." But that's only a stopgap, since Netflix rarely carries brand-new episodes and channels that license their shows to the service could yank them at their next possible opportunity. Despite ramping up its production on original content, the service is still very reliant on the existing production channels.