We’ve discussed what Netflix’s identity might look like if it started packaging its streaming content and original programming into a cable channel. It turns out, that development might come sooner than expected: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is apparently already meeting with cable executives. And for those of you who are dying for a stand-alone HBO option, this might be the most interesting potential development if Netflix gets a cable channel:
A cable deal would increase Netflix’s competition with Time Warner’s HBO, but could allay fears among TV distributors that Netflix will lead to consumers’ cutting the pay TV cord. At least one cable company could end up experimenting with offering Netflix by the end of the year, even though the company would have to modify its content licensing deals, which currently typically don’t allow Netflix to bring programming to cable set-top boxes, according to Reuters…[Tony] Wible also suggested that HBO could react by also offering its HBO Go service directly to consumers. A spokesman for HBO declined to comment. HBO and Time Warner executives have in the past signaled that HBO Go allows for the option to market to consumers directly, but there was no financial benefit for such an approach for now.
I’ve said in the past that HBO is a very careful steward of its business model. And whether Netflix is on cable or not, it still won’t have HBO’s content. The question is whether HBO remains confident that its content is valuable enough that consumers will pick it a their add-on to cable if they’re choosing between HBO and Netflix.