Netflix Strikes Multiyear Streaming Deal With Comcast

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The video service will pay for getting direct access to Comcast's broadband network to improve streaming speeds.

Netflix and Comcast have agreed to a multiyear deal aimed at improving the service's streaming experience for broadband customers, the companies said in a joint statement on Sunday. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

The agreement comes just 10 days after Comcast unveiled a $45 billion deal to acquire Time Warner Cable, which is expected to draw opposition from competitors during the regulatory review process.

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Netflix hasn't taken a stance on the deal so far, but could stay away from vocal opposition after Sunday's agreement. The deal could also lead Comcast to extend the same terms to Time Warner Cable households if its acquisition is approved.

Observers will keep a close eye on whether the Comcast arrangement will lead Netflix to reach similar deals with other big broadband providers, particularly Verizon, whose subscribers have seen a slowdown in Netflix streaming speeds.

Comcast said that Netflix will receive no preferential treatment from the deal. It’s a notable distinction given that the cable company's bid to buy Time Warner Cable has raised concerns that the combined company would have the heft to force content providers into paying for faster streaming speeds. The FCC has attempted to block such practices through the enforcement of an “Open Internet,” also known as net neutrality.

A federal appeals court struck down the FCC’s anti-discrimination rules in January. But FCC chairman Tom Wheeler on Feb. 19 said he will propose new rules that would discourage Internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to companies that pay extra to stream their content to consumers at faster speeds.