John Malone's Liberty Global to Integrate Netflix Worldwide

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"We are committed to bringing the best content to our customers, and are thrilled to expand our partnership with Netflix" beyond Virgin Media in the U.K., says Mike Fries, CEO of the international cable giant.

John Malone's international cable giant Liberty Global on Wednesday unveiled a multiyear partnership with Netflix to integrate the latter's service and make its content available to Liberty Global pay TV subscribers in more than 30 countries worldwide.

The partnership follows the successful U.K. launch of Netflix on Liberty Global-owned cable giant Virgin Media in 2013, which marked Netflix's first integration of its streaming subscription VOD service into a pay TV offering. Netflix is available in most countries of the world and has been looking to grow its subscriber base.

Financial terms weren't disclosed. Liberty Global operates across Europe and Latin America.

The agreement with Netflix complements Liberty Global’s investment in content through acquisitions, partnerships and original commissions alongside the $2.5 billion it spends each year on licensed content for its video platforms. The cable company says its collection of on-demand entertainment features up to 6,000 hours of movies, TV series and documentaries.

“We are committed to bringing the best content to our customers, and are thrilled to expand our partnership with Netflix," said Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries. "This deal will provide even more freedom to our subscribers – allowing them to access a goldmine of amazing TV and films at the click of a button, fully integrated into their usual TV viewing set-up.”

Said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: “This partnership builds on our strong relationship with Virgin Media in the U.K., allowing millions of our mutual customers around the world to easily access the broadest range of TV shows and movies without having to search for that other remote control. Combining the Netflix app — and all the great content it provides — into the familiar, easy-to-use cable box makes both more appealing.”

Under the partnership, the Netherlands will be the first new market to launch Netflix on Liberty Global's Horizon set-top box. The rollout will advance to other countries as technological upgrades across all of Liberty Global’s operations continue through 2017, the firms said.

When the Netflix app launches in Liberty Global systems, existing Netflix members will be able to log in and browse through Netflix's lineup on their main TV screen, eliminating the need to have a separate device and to switch between TV inputs and remote controls.

Some analysts have suggested in the past that pay TV operators around the world could start integrating and streaming so-called "over-the-top" broadband services like Netflix instead of competing with them.

"This secures Liberty Global's place in the pay TV ecosystem," said Macquarie Capital analyst Amy Yong. "Malone has been carefully watching consumer behavior around Netflix and the impact to the bundle. Virgin Media has been leading its peers with Netflix/TiVo and its success gives them confidence to move forward in other markets. Integrating Netflix across all markets is continued evidence that its footprint/scale has a competitive advantage." Added Harrigan: "The broader video proposition drives broadband penetration. Netflix is more complement than a huge threat."

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