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TheStreet Open House

Netflix Is Not Coming to Comcast, TWC (UPDATED)

Stocks in this article: NFLXCMCSATWXTWCAMCX

Because, of course, why wouldn't the evil cable companies, as Netflix notes in its Q3 letter, "believe that by enabling their subscribers to do more with their cable set-top and remote, they can increase satisfaction, relative to their subscribers using a separate Internet set-top box or smart TV to enjoy Netflix." I mean it has to be some damn technical issue, not the reality of the television/content business keeping this most obvious move from taking place.

A clear case of Netflix playing the public's dislike for cable companies against these same cable companies moving, albeit slowly, to unbundle without Netflix and the pesky technology-related hurdles that apparently prevent the same from happening with Netflix.

First, where there's a will there's a way. If the cable companies really wanted to make Netflix set-top box integration happen, they could. The executives at these companies would direct their engineers and other tech geeks to get it done. Maybe not overnight, but certainly in a time frame measuring far less than "many years."

Second, they're not moving with urgency because there's absolutely no need to. While Netflix could use the potential subscriber bump an alliance with big cable might provide, the cable companies and major programmers have little incentive to facilitate the process.

They simply do not need Netflix as part of their evolving set of bundles to provide value. After all, it's the big media names that license and/or actually own almost all of the content Netflix streams. To that end, by promoting their own Internet delivery initiatives they can ultimately render Netflix, for all intents and purposes, unnecessary.

While I have received confirmation from high-level sources that a Netflix-squashing partnership between HBO and AMC Networks (AMCX) is always possible, though not probable, expect HBO to explore ways to make its HBO GO streaming service even more attractive. Remember, in addition to its own library of exclusive content, HBO has relationships with programmers and studios who have their own caches of the same. I expect the Comcast accord to mark merely the beginning of the old, but hardly sleepy media's efforts to evolve its business models.

That said, cable investors were furious because there's no need to blow up these lucrative models right now. And there's absolutely no good reason for Comcast, Time Warner Cable or even a smaller provider to include Netflix in an evolution it has no place being part of.

The long-standing relationships cable companies have with names such as HBO mean billions of dollars to both sides. As such, we should expect the big money with investments (that are doing quite well) dependent on the health of these arrangements to freak out over the folly of working Netflix into the mix. There's just no need for it from any perspective, despite the Netflix spin.

And, even if the technology was ready to go tomorrow morning, Netflix becoming part of your no-longer local and equally-as-evil (I'm just playing off of popular sentiment and frustration) cable company's offering, especially if your set-top box says Comcast or Time Warner Cable on it, isn't happening anytime soon no matter how badly Netflix or the media it has in its coat pocket wants it to.

*UPDATE: And, lo and behold, on Comcast's Thursday earnings call, Comcast Cable's President and CEO, Neil Smit, had this to say about the possibility of adding Netflix to the Comcast cable lineup:

Let me take the questions one at a time. On the Netflix side, really there's nothing to report. It's been, frankly, incredible to me the amount of press coverage this has received. Our customers can receive Netflix in a number of ways, so it's not really a high priority for us. We're open to putting apps on our X1 platform. We have, for example, Facebook and Pandora there now. But at this point, we don't really have anything to report on the Netflix front.

Yes, Neil, it's been incredible to me as well.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.
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