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Cablevision Would ‘Love to Sell’ Netflix to Subs

17 Sep, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Executive with New York cable operator said selling Netflix access to subscribers makes the same sense as offering pay-TV channels HBO and Showtime.

A day after Netflix shares took a hit when the service revised upward by 1 million the number of subscribers exiting following the Sept. 1 price increase, a cable executive said he would like to offer the subscription video-on-demand service to his subscribers.

Speaking Sept. 16 at a Bank of America investor event in Beverly Hills, Calif., Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge said he sees the pay-TV world dividing into an a la carte environment in the long-term due to escalating costs and ongoing economic concerns among consumers.

Rutledge said while scuttlebutt suggests over-the-top TV operators such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime threaten to upend the multichannel video distribution business model, Cablevision is looking to work with – not against – changing market dynamics.

“I’d love to sell Netflix as a pay service over my system,” Rutledge said. “Why not? There are other things I’d love to sell a la carte, I think I could sell deep penetration of products with our marketing capabilities. A la carte would be the most preferential way.”

In other words, Cablevision would offer Netflix streaming to its subs; incorporating its likely discounted monthly fee into the cable bill. The advantage to Netflix when emulated across multichannel video distributors globally would be lower expansion costs as it expands.

With more than 3 million subscribers, New York-based Cablevision has been at ground zero of content distribution battling escalating retransmission fees, sports programming rights, spinning off its AMC Networks unit and rolling out a proprietary TV Everywhere platform, among other challenges.

Rutledge said talk about cord-cutting among cable subscribers is largely effecting people “who have no money at all” and are not just cutting video services but the “whole cable cord.” He said there is heretofore little evidence of consumers buying broadband access without cable TV access.

Indeed, the executive said Cablevision is embracing the OTT specter, including offering subscribers a platform that allows them to link whatever they are watching on their PC on their TV.

“Our goal is to put everything that is on the Internet on every screen in the house,” Rutledge said, adding subscribers soon would be able to access Netflix, Hulu, etc., on the TV without a separate connected device or media player. “


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