With apologies to a well-known theatrical apothegm, for many customers ‘dying is easy, figuring out which remote/set-top to use or wire to connectoin get services on my cable is hard.’

Making it as simple as possible to access Netflix is a large part of the idea behind a late-April announcement that cable MSO Atlantic Broadband (AB) would fully integrate the Neflix app into its TiVo service.

In the April 25 announcement AB said accessing Netflix for its customers who are Netflix subscribers would be as easy as changing the channel. And it is, literally. Netflix now is a channel choice on the AB navigation guide. “So many cable customers never got past the blinking lights of their VCR to set the clock,” says Atlantic Broadband’s Chief Marketing Officer/SVP David Isenberg, who argues that cable operators, his company included, sometimes forget how complicated technology can be for subscribers. The integration with Netflix and TiVo “eliminates the complexity of multiple boxes, remote controls, input ports and cables,” the April 25 announcement said. “We think usage and adoption of the service will increase significantly” because it’s now so easy to access.

The second piece of the equation is giving subscribers additional choices, Isenberg says. “Customers kept asking us, ‘When are you going to have Netflix?’ Rather than threatening cable, Netflix complements it, Isenberg says. “We offer customers many choices of current-season programs, which they watch live or record on their DVR. What Netflix typically offers is a great library of prior-season TV shows and movies that already have been available On Demand and on the premium channels.” Together “it’s an unbelievable library of content.”

The content should be relatively easy to find too, says Julie Smith, SVP of Marketing. “If you say you like a particular actor, the TiVo guide will show you a list of films and shows that actor is in.” The beauty of this search is that it’s integrated, the list will include films on Showtime or AMC, for example, On Demand or Net_ ix. “This is part of the integrated experience,” Isenberg says.

While the integration barely was 6 weeks old when this article was written and Atlantic Broadband had yet to release results, Isenberg says “we just had one of our best springs… the interest in Netflix is part of that.” Customers are adding TiVo at a “greater volume” than before. Adds SVP/COO Rich Shea, “We could not be more pleased by the Netflix launch and the responses it has received from our customers.”

Getting two companies to make a deal can be difficult; a three-way arrangement even more so. Atlantic Broadband wanted to do a deal like this “for some time and had spoken to Netflix,” says Isenberg. The movie rights Netflix owned “explicitly prevented” it from “delivering its service through cable set-top boxes.” As Netflix grew, it was able to change those agreements, says Isenberg. Another need was TiVo’s next-generation platform, which allowed Atlantic
Broadband to take its traditional TV delivery service and have it become Internet-enabled.

Beyond all that, Isenberg, an undergraduate history major at Yale, feels the rollout is historic. “I think [deals like this signal] the start of the broadband TV era,” he says, equating it with HBO’s pioneering work when it went up on satellite Sept 30, 1975, becoming the first TV net to continuously deliver its signal that way. From that event, which saw HBO send its signal for the “Thrilla in Manila” boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier via satellite, today we have hundreds of channels on satellite. Ten years from now, will we be looking at a set of Internet delivered services that we can’t imagine today? You read it here first.
-Seth Arenstein

Fast Facts
RCN and Grande Communications joined Atlantic Broadband
in announcing the integration of Netflix with TiVo
service April 25.

Atlantic Broadband is the 13th largest cable operator with
230K customers in western PA, Miami Beach, MD/DE and
Aiken, S.C.

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