Cable subscribers throughout the United States may start getting streaming services on cable TV, according to a Netflix, which announced its agreement on Friday with three smaller cable companies to create an exclusive Netflix channel.
This agreement is part of a growing trend that is blurring the lines that once separated traditional television and web-based streaming services. Competition between rival streaming services is already coming to head.
In an unprecedented development this week, cable-television giant HBO has allowed the airing of its older shows on Amazon.com's online streaming services. Netflix, however, was left out of this deal. Not to be outdone, Amazon unveiled on Wednesday its budget-friendly streaming device Fire TV. In theory, device allows subscribers to Amazon's streaming services to watch shows or play video games on an average home entertainment system.
Besides Amazon, Netflix will have to contend with Comcast - one of the largest cable television providers in the United States. Netflix cried foul twice this week before U.S Senator Al Frankten of potential price hikes in cable services following the recent Comcast purchase of Time Warner Cable. So far, Netflix can only be accessed through internet services, which a large part is provided by nationwide cable companies. The only other means for consumers to access Netflix is through third-party devices such as TiVo and Roku. Out of necessity, Netflix agreed in February to pay Comcast to provide smoother streaming the former's services.
Friday's agreement is sign that Netflix is seeking direct competition with cable services at large, according to the Washington Post.
"The entire cable television market is in the process of reinventing itself," said independent telecom analyst Jeff Kagan to the Post. "Watching television on TV used to be the entire pie. Now it's just one slice of it."
According to Netflix representatives, streaming services are eligible to begin next week Monday. But for now, access to the upcoming channel will be limited to subscribers of the three cable companies and Netflix.