Of course, this wouldn’t preclude Comcast from also including Netflix on its boxes down the line so that it could be all-inclusive. Comcast, for instance, owns NBCUniversal, but also has channel positions on its systems to watch Fox, CBS and ABC. That’s only fair. Streaming video channels should work at the same level.
For movie companies, this can be a big deal. It gives them more help distributing movies through a big multichannel video program distributor.
Movie studios are still looking to supplant the $5 billion or so in annual DVD rental and sales revenue that they currently receive. This number has dwindled down from over $10 billion. Meanwhile, revenues from digital and streaming are growing but have only reached around $1.5 billion, according to some estimates.
Experts have wondered what this means for theatrical movie revenues and theater owners. More than a few movie studios and others have experimented with opening movies concurrently in theaters and on streaming platforms. But theater owners aren’t exactly happy with that.
From TV companies’ point of view, this could mean more competition for media time via set-top boxes. It would put more pressure on program producers, including those heavy pay movie channels HBO, Showtime and Starz.
Longtime cable executive John Malone pondered a few weeks ago that the fascination with all things digital left the cable TV business wanting. Why couldn’t the cable industry come up with a Netflix-like service, he asked.
One of the biggest multi-channel video program providers is apparently doing just that. If other cable operators, satellite companies and telcos decide to join in -- in all likelihood to be competitive -- it will give these businesses, including movie studios, reason to cheer.
But what will Netflix be thinking?