ABC/Disney Caught in the Middle of Fight Between Comcast and Netflix

Netflix has reached an agreement to stream content from the Disney and the ABC family of networks.  Previous airings of hits like Lost, Ugly Betty, and Scrubs will be available at launch, with a 15-day delay for new episodes of current shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Desparate Housewives.  The Disney Channel and ABC Family network will make available episodes of kid-friendly fare including Phineas and FerbWizards of Waverly Place and movie series Camp Rock and High School Musical.

Comcast subscribers who use the conglomerate’s Internet services may be out of luck.  As pointed out in our forums, Comcast is fighting Level 3 Communications, the Netflix content delivery firm, from streaming to Comcast subscribers.  In preparation of a potential merge with NBC, Comcast is perceived to be trying to shut out Netflix, iTunes and other content providers.

In anticipation of the move, Comcast will release a new iPad app, PlayNow, that will allow xfinity subscribers to not only control their home DVRs as they can now using the xfinity TV app, but stream over 150,00 video items from their TV Online portal.  Play Now will first work with premium networks such as HBO, Starz, and Showtime with other network rights being negotiated. 

Comcast president Neil Smit was quoted as saying that he doesn’t believe subscribers are moving to cutting the cord and that only a “small trace” of customers have left Comcast in favor of free-over-the air TV.  He admitted there has been some loss to other competitors.

Netflix can’t have exclusive streaming rights to the Disney/ABC content, so Comcast should be able to stream the channels.  Slingbox owners can already time shift and stream content from any cable box, including DVR recordings and VOD to iDevices.  It will be interesting to see how cable companies evolve to catch up and how Slingbox improves to provide additonal value.

[Engadget] [Light Reading Cable] [Electronista]

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