(Reuters) – Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings has quietly met with some of the largest U.S. cable companies in recent weeks to discuss adding the online movie streaming service to their cable offerings, according to sources familiar with matter.
In what would ratchet up its competition with HBO, the talks could lead to Netflix becoming available as another on-demand option for cable subscribers through their set-top boxes, according to three people familiar with the talks. If a partnership came to fruition, a cable operator might offer Netflix as an additional option added onto a subscriber’s cable bill, according to a fourth person.
Any partnership would be a major about-face for many in the traditional cable industry who had initially seen Netflix as a threat to their $100 billion-a-year business.
Hastings has strongly hinted at investor conferences in recent weeks about the possibility of Netflix one day being a cable channel rival to premium networks like Time Warner Inc’s HBO.
“It’s not in the short term, but it’s in the natural direction for us in the long term,” said Hastings, speaking at an investor conference last week. “Many (cable service providers) would like to have a competitor to HBO, and they would bid us off of HBO.”
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