Netflix CEO: Comcast X1 Integration ‘Will Help Modestly’

Though “very excited” about Netflix’s deal to integrate its OTT service on Comcast’s X1 platform later this year, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings downplayed how much of a subscriber bump that agreement will provide to the SVOD giant. 

“It will help modestly,” Hastings said Monday on a Q2 earnings call that was streamed on YouTube. “We’re more penetrated than we were before, so I don’t know that it’s as big a breakthrough because many of those Comcast households now have a smart TV or have a Roku [player]…But it will certainly help.”

Hastings reiterated that the plan is to offer Netflix on Comcast’s X1 platform later this year.

“We’re focused on getting the integration points very smooth, and the Comcast engineers are doing great work on it,” he said. “From a user perspective, to just live on the Comcast remote and to be able to stay on that input as opposed to having to switch inputs is a great thing for them.”

Though Comcast and Netflix have yet to pinpoint a date for when that integration is complete, the deal will enter play as Netflix looks to give its U.S. subscriber growth rate a jolt. It added just 160,000 net streaming subs in the U.S. in Q2.

Hastings was also asked to weigh on Hulu’s coming pay TV service, which is expected to be a slimmed down bundle of channels alongside a robust on-demand offering.

Hastings doesn’t believe that product will have much of an impact on Netflix, but noted that Netflix penetration among customers for Sling TV, the Dish Network-owned virtual MVPD, is “quite high.”

“Think of that as cable getting better, of MVPD[s] getting better…and Hulu is a potential example of that, if the reports are correct,” Hastings said.

And there was little movement Monday on Netflix’s interest in supplying a downloading option as it continues to expand to markets around the globe.

“We’re open-minded about it as we’ve expanded globally,” Hastings said. “It’s something that we’ve taken more of a look at, given the strength of cellular networks not being as strong in some of the new markets.”

He said adding a downloading capability would have “no material cost implications” for Netflix because securing such rights has become “standard for most deals.”