Hastings: Netflix Could Be On A Comcast Set-Top

But Netflix Chief Says Issues Need to Be Worked Out

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the over-the-top pioneer could find its way on the set-tops of major U.S. cable operators like Comcast, but stressed that there are still issues to be worked out before that becomes a reality.

Speaking on a video chat after releasing its third quarter financial results, Hastings confirmed reports last week that Netflix was in early talks with cable operators like Comcast about including a NetFlix app on their leased set-tops.

“I’m sure we can be on a Comcast set-top,” Hastings said. “We have to figure out the deal terms that make sense for both sides. It’s been an ongoing discussion with many of the MVPDs, not just Comcast.”

Hastings said he has a Comcast X-1 set-top in his home where he is able to access other apps like Pandora.

“I think I would like to be able to watch Netflix [too] and that would keep me on the Comcast X-1 which is a great product,” Hastings said. “I’m really hopeful that we can do that with Comcast and other people in the industry.”

Reports last week said that one of the stumbling blocks to a wider acceptance by U.S. cable operators is Netflix’s insistence its partners use its Open Connect a private content delivery network. Some operators fear ceding control of a portion of their network and are concerned it would open the door to offering similar privileges to other over the top video providers.

Hastings said that concerns over connecting to Netflix’s content delivery network affects its ability to do wholesale deals “a little bit,” but added that media giant’s top priority is to ensure its customers have the best video experience possible.

“ISPs that directly interconnect with Open Connect have a better experience,” he said.

Hastings also addressed complaints from some in the industry that it basically receives free distribution via operators’ broadband networks. Liberty Media chairman John Malone has recently said such a model isn’t sustainable for long.

Hastings noted that cable and telco providers routinely charge $40 to $60 per month for broadband access without paying any content costs.

“The argument works both ways,” Hastings said. “We think it will work out in the long term best if there is neutrality – if we bring the bits, there’s an interchange and there is no charging at the interchange.”

Chief content officer Ted Sarandos shot down some speculation that the media giant was in talks with the National Football League about possible deals to carry NFL games in the future.

“We’re still not interested in sports,” Sarandos said. “What we bring to the table is a lot of improvement because of all the attributes of on demand. I don’t think that brings much to sports viewing, which is primarily a linear experience.”