Suddenlink Communications has become the latest U.S. cable operator – and the largest domestic MSO, so far – to strike a deal to offer access to Netflix on leased TiVo-powered set-top boxes.
Suddenlink did not announced a specific launch date, but the MSO said it expects to open up access to Netflix on leased TiVo devices sometime this summer.
Suddenlink has about 1.2 million video subs, but has not announced how many are currently on TiVo. Suddenlink, which primarily serves customers in parts of Arkansas, Louisianna, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia, launched TiVo-powered services in December 2010.
Netflix got its first big break onto U.S. cable last month with word that it would be offered on leased TiVo devices distributed by RCN, Atlantic Broadband and Grande Communications, operators that represent fewer than 1 million video subscribers. In those deployments, Netflix will retain a direct billing relationship with its streaming subscribers. Additionally, the TiVo UI on those leased boxes will also present a “jump channel” to the Netflix service that will appear alongside traditional linear channels on the cable operators’ lineup.
Google Fiber, which currently offers broadband and pay TV services in parts of Kansas City and Provo, Utah, allows its subscribers to link their Netflix accounts to the Google Fiber TV box, according to this Google Fiber customer help page.
Outside the U.S., Virgin Media in the U.K. and Com Hem of Sweden offer Netflix on leased, TiVo-powered devices. Waoo!, a Danish triple-play service provider, offers Netflix on set-tops made by AirTies that run Nordija’s middleware.
“This agreement is a great example of how the cable industry can work with Internet content providers on innovative solutions that benefit consumers,” Suddenlink chairman and CEO Jerry Kent said, in a statement. “Importantly, we will be delivering Netflix to our customers with the superior quality of high-speed Internet connections that tend to be the fastest and highest-ranked in the communities we serve.”
“Suddenlink is making it even easier for their customers to watch Netflix on their TVs,” added Bill Holmes, head of business development at Netflix. “Suddenlink is an innovator, offering more choice and a great experience to its customers.”
"The intuitive user experience TiVo provides for our operator partners bridges the gap between linear television channels and over-the-top content to the great benefit of the content provider, the operator, and most of all the viewer,” said Tom Rogers, President and CEO of TiVo Inc.
“TiVo gives cable operators the ability to have the best offering available for consumers, making over-the-top services like Netflix ‘friend not foe’ for our partners. This seamless integration tremendously enhances the overall viewing experience and we are pleased to be the enabling technology that brings Netflix into the set-top box,” said TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers.
According to industry sources, Netflix has historically insisted that MVPD that offer its service on leased devices also become members of Open Connect, a private content delivery network that relies on Netflix-supplied edge caches.
Suddenlink, Atlantic Broadband, RCN, Cablevision Systems, Cox Communications, Google Fiber, British Telecom, Frontier Communications, Clearwire, GVT, Bell Canada, Telmex, Telus, and Virgin Media are among the known members of the Open Connect program.
As an Open Connect member, Suddenlink tends to rank highly on Netflix’s monthly ISP Speed Index. According to Netflix's rankings of major ISPs for March, Suddenlink’s average Netflix stream clocked in at 2.67 Mbps, trailed only by Cablevision and Cox.
Netflix, which reluctantly agreed to a paid peering deal with Comcast in February, announced its opposition to the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal last month.