Netflix: Coming to a Cable Box Near You?

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The streaming service is in talks with cable companies to put itself on their boxes. That would mean cable customers could use Netflix without any additional device or an Internet-connected TV.

Netflix wants to be available through your cable box — and cable providers aren’t completely opposed to the idea.

The streaming service is in talks with several American providers including Comcast and Suddenlink Communications, The Wall Street Journal says. Netflix has already reached a deal with at least one British provider, Virgin Media.

“Currently, customers who want to stream Netflix on their TV sets either need Internet-connected TVs or must switch to a different TV-input to get a Netflix signal from connected devices such as game consoles or Web-TV boxes such as the Apple TV box,” the WSJ says. A deal with a cable provider could eliminate the need for an extra or newer device.

One of many hitches in the negotiations is the fear of cable providers that Netflix could undermine them by offering services that directly compete with them, such as pay-per-view films, the WSJ says. Netflix also wants providers to install some proprietary technology designed to ensure smooth streaming, and providers aren’t comfortable with that.

Meanwhile, broadcast networks are pushing to shut down another streaming service competitor — Aereo. ABC, NBC, CBS and other networks have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether the company’s business model violates copyright law, The Huffington Post says.

For $8 a month, Aereo uses tiny antennas to capture broadcast signals and then streams them to your computers and mobile devices. Aereo’s tagline is “Watch TV online. Save shows for later. No cable required.” It’s available in seven major cities now and expanding to several others soon.

“While cable companies pay broadcasters billions of dollars in fees for the right to re-broadcast network TV shows, Aereo pays them nothing,” Huffington Post says. The networks have argued that Aereo is essentially stealing their signal, while Aereo contends over-the-air broadcast signals are free for the taking — and subsequently selling.

Stacy Johnson

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