Mediacom: Door to Netflix-Over-TiVo Is Closed

The flow of cable operators that have integrated Netflix into leased boxes powered by TiVo has been steady in recent weeks, yet one of TiVo’s largest partners, Mediacom Communications, has remained on the sideline.

Mediacom is eager to add Netflix to its TiVo platform, but said the streaming giant won’t grant permission unless the operator joins Open Connect, Netflix’s private content- delivery network that relies on network edge caches.

“They appear to be using [integration on leased TiVo boxes] as a bargaining chip in their Open Connect negotiations,” said a Mediacom spokesman who believes the stance only hurts Netflix, because the streaming service is denying some of its subscribers a more convenient path to its content.

That Netflix is drawing a hard line on Open Connect when it comes to settop box integrations isn’t new. People familiar with the negotiation process told Multichannel News earlier this year that such insistence from the Netflix camp is one of the sticking points that would prevent Netflix from getting integrated onto Comcast’s IP-capable X1 platform.

Comcast has since forged an interconnection agreement with Netflix in lieu of joining Open Connect, and may not be placing a high priority on integrating Netflix because it operates its own premium streaming service, Streampix.

When asked about the situation with Mediacom, a Netflix spokeswoman wouldn’t confirm whether the MSO’s reluctance to join Open Connect is holding things up because “we don’t discuss negotiations with individual partners.”

But Open Connect “ensures an Internet service provider is able to deliver the best viewing experience,” she added. “We provide Open Connect at no cost to ISPs, providing a clear benefit for them and our mutual customers.”

Mediacom has taken a different path to edge caching, going with a “transparent” system from Qwilt that optimizes bandwidth by monitoring and caching traffic from not just Netflix, but from other over-the-top video sources, such as YouTube and Hulu.

While some ISPs are reluctant to join Open Connect because they fear it would force them to allow other OTT providers to place single-purpose caches on their network, several others have eagerly jumped on board.

Several U.S. TiVo partners are members of Open Connect and have launched integrated access to Netflix on leased boxes, including Suddenlink Communications, RCN, Cable One, Midcontinent Communications, Atlantic Broadband and Grande Communications. Those MSOs have also given Netflix a virtual channel on the TiVo guide that provides a direct link to the Netflix service.