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Now even Comcast wants to Netflix and chill

Now even Comcast wants to Netflix and chill
Comcast lost 186,000 residential TV subscribers last year. (Dreamstime / TNS)

One of the nation's largest cable companies is adding Netflix directly to its product lineup.

Comcast Corp. said Friday that customers soon will be able to buy a Netflix subscription from the TV and internet service provider as part of a regular bundle of services.

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Just as its customers currently pay a monthly fee to Comcast for broadband, phone and video channels, the company said, later this month they will be able to add the streaming video giant onto the same bill.

It's unclear how Netflix will be priced as part of the bundle; a Comcast spokeswoman declined to provide specifics. Netflix viewing, she said, will count against customer data caps just like any other online app.

"Netflix is an important supplement to the content offering on X1, and the ability to include Netflix in our packages will offer more choice, value and flexibility to customers," the spokeswoman said.

The billing partnership is a first of its kind for the cable industry, which is undergoing significant changes as more Americans cut the cord. (Comcast lost 186,000 residential TV subscribers last year, according to the company's financial reports.)

Offering Netflix within the bundle could benefit Comcast "a little," said Craig Moffett, an industry analyst at the research firm MoffettNathanson, by helping the company retain customers who might otherwise cancel their TV subscriptions and switch to Netflix separately.

Netflix Inc. could benefit by gaining greater access to Comcast customers who do not already subscribe to the video-on-demand service and who aren't likely to cut the cord; the streaming company has faced investor concerns about continued growth in the United States.

Comcast's integration with Netflix dates to 2016, when the cable company said it would make the streaming service searchable from its X1 entertainment platform. Friday's announcement reflects a significant expansion of that relationship.

"We can't wait to introduce more X1 customers to Netflix with Xfinity's new packaged offers," Bill Holmes, global head of business development for Netflix, said in a statement.

The deal highlights the improving ties between Netflix and the cable industry, which once were thought to be rivals as Netflix began siphoning off cable customers and producing its own original content. Netflix and Comcast famously battled in public over the fees Comcast demanded in exchange for Netflix getting a smoother connection to consumers. Netflix ultimately agreed to pay Comcast, but the debate played a key role in shaping the government's net neutrality rules.

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