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New Netflix, Comcast bundles may make streaming easier

The two companies are getting cozier, which could make it easier for more Comcast customers to stream Netflix and search its titles.

Matt Elliott/CNET

Video-streaming service Netflix and cable giant Comcast will offer bundles that could make it easier -- or cheaper -- to subscribe to both. 

The companies are expanding their 2016 partnership to include Netflix subscriptions in their cable packages, they said Friday in a statement. This means that Comcast customers who don't subscribe to its high-end X1 service may be able to shift from watching cable shows to Stranger Things without first switching inputs on their TVs.

Netflix and Comcast didn't provide specifics about what the wider integration will look like, but it will likely mean your Netflix options will be sitting right next to your regular TV channels. The companies could also offer discounts for subscribing to both and bundling them into one bill. 

It extends a symbiotic relationship between two companies that have long been frenemies. Netflix waged a public battle against Comcast in 2014 over net neutrality, and the two compete against each another for your video-viewing time and dollars. However, both Netflix and Comcast found their 2016 X1 bundle to be mutually beneficial. 

As Netflix tries to find people in the US who still don't subscribe, it must reach folks who are comfortable in the traditional TV model. About 60 percent of Comcast households use the X1 service, but its non-X1 subscribers are more likely to be people who haven't tried Netflix yet. And as Comcast battles dwindling membership from cord cutters, it has decided the best defense is to embrace the services that subscribers are fleeing to -- by offering a streaming-friendly service itself.  

Two years ago, Netflix and Comcast agreed to integrate the streaming service into the cable company's high-end X1 platform, which has allowed subscribers to search for and watch Netflix shows and movies as if they were on any traditional channel. Since then, Netflix has become one of the most popular voice searches and highly viewed services on the platform, the companies said. 

Comcast will launch a variety of initial offers this month that include a Netflix subscription. Offers and availability will vary by market and be open to new and existing customers. Netflix-related billing will be handled directly by Comcast, giving customers one monthly statement.

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