Feb 23 (Reuters) - Comcast Corp customers are about to get improved streaming service from Netflix after the two companies announced on Sunday an agreement to give Netflix a direct connection to the broadband provider.
This agreement means that Netflix will deliver its movies and TV programs to Comcast's broadband network as opposed through third party providers, giving viewers faster streaming speeds for watching movies and TV programs.
The deal could also mean that other broadband providers like Verizon and AT&T will have to strike a similar arrangements, known in the industry as interconnect agreements.
The companies said in a joint statement that they have been "working collaboratively over many months" to strike a multi-year agreement. The terms were not disclosed and Netflix will not receive preferential network treatment, the companies said.
With more than 44 million subscribers throughout the world, Netflix has been making an effort to connect directly with broadband Internet providers. It has struck similar deals with Cablevision and Cox.
The announcement comes as Comcast prepares to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, a deal that will draw the scrutiny of U.S. antitrust enforcers.
The combined company would have a near 30 percent share of the U.S. pay television market, as well as be the major provider of broadband Internet access.
At the same time, Federal regulators are wrestling with an issue known as "Net neutrality" concerning broadband providers and whether they can slow down traffic to some particular websites or applications, potentially forcing content providers to pay for faster Web service.
The Federal Communications Commission said last week it plans to rewrite the rules after a U.S. court struck down the commission's previous version.