Netflix is trying to kill cable, but it is also now profiting from consumers who have yet to cut the cord. The popular streaming platform will debut a cable TV channel across three regional providers, reaching 820,000 TV subscribers.
The Netflix TV channel will debut on Atlantic Broadband, RCN Telecom Services and Grande Communications, which provide TiVo boxes to customers in the Southeast, the Northeast, and Texas, respectively. Customers will be able to access Netflix directly from their TiVo boxes, though the channel will require an Internet connection to stream video.
Netflix’s decision to create a cable TV channel comes at a time when the digital TV industry is exploding. Google, Roku, and Apple are in an arms race to create the best web-to-TV device, Amazon has joined the party with the release of its Fire TV box, and major telecommunications companies are gearing up to enter the race as well. This flurry of activity is a sign that viewers want the on demand experience of web video on their TVs, and Netflix is providing that experience for a portion of the 82% of its American users who have not dropped their cable subscriptions.
Don’t expect Netflix’s TV channel to reach a much larger scale than its current regional audience. The platform’s execs are currently feuding with Comcast over the cable provider’s planned merger with Time Warner, a deal termed “anti-competitive” by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Those comments came weeks after Netflix agreed to pay Comcast in order to ensure smooth bandwidth for its customers. Given this bad blood, it seems unlikely that Netflix’s TV channel will ever reach Comcast’s 21.7 million cable subscribers. Instead, TV seems as if it will be a small–but active–part of Netflix’s business.