LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK Netflix Inc's streaming video subscription service will be integrated into TiVo Inc set-top boxes for customers of three of the smaller U.S. cable operators, the companies said on Thursday.
The deals with Atlantic Broadband, Grande Communications and RCN Telecom Services are the first in the United States to bring Netflix as an app to cable set-top boxes. The arrangements make it easier for consumers to access Netflix movies and TV shows on their television sets because they don't have to switch to another device like an Apple TV or Roku box.
Netflix could come to more cable boxes provided by other TiVo partners if the cable companies work out the agreements, a TiVo spokesman said.
Cable companies that use TiVo boxes include Suddenlink, Mediacom, Cable One and Blue Ridge Communications, a small provider in Pennsylvania.
Netflix has been talking with cable providers for months about the company's desire to have its streaming service accessible through set-top boxes, which it believes will help retain and win new subscribers.
Chief Executive Reed Hastings has said he would like to link up with other providers including Comcast Corp, which has more than 22 million video subscribers and is seeking regulatory approval for a $45.3 billion bid for No. 2 operator Time Warner Cable Inc
Among the three providers that announced agreements with Netflix, RCN is the largest with about 350,000 subscribers in Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities.
Atlantic Broadband, a unit of Cogeco Cable Inc, has 230,000 customers in several Eastern states. Grande serves 140,000 customers in Texas.
To access Netflix under the new arrangement, customers must subscribe to the TiVo DVR service and to Netflix.
"Now, watching Netflix is as easy as changing the channel," David Isenberg, Atlantic Broadband's chief marketing and strategy officer, said in a statement. Netflix content is a "tremendous complement" to Atlantic Broadband's live TV and on-demand programming, he added.
Last year, Netflix began appearing on TiVo boxes with some pay TV operators in Europe.
On Monday, Netflix's quarterly letter to shareholders said the company would launch its first U.S. deals this quarter with pay TV providers that use TiVo set-top boxes "and try to extend to non-TiVo devices after that."
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Bernard Orr)