Liberty Global Adding Netflix App to Cable Set-Top Boxes

  • Second big cable agreement for Netflix after Comcast win
  • Malone’s Liberty gives Netflix an assist in international push

Liberty Global Plc, the London-based cable company controlled by billionaire John Malone, reached a multiyear agreement to include Netflix Inc.’s video streaming app on its TV set-top boxes.

Netflix will be added to viewing selections on cable boxes starting in the Netherlands and later expand throughout Liberty Global’s more than 30-country territory in 2017, according to the companies. Liberty Global, with 24.2 million video subscribers, is one of the world’s largest cable providers.

This is the second large-scale cable win for Netflix. In July, Comcast Corp. said it will include Netflix on its X1 video system. Comcast is the largest U.S. cable TV provider with 22.4 million subscribers.

“Combining the Netflix app -- and all the great content it provides -- into the familiar, easy-to-use cable box makes both more appealing,” Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said in a statement Wednesday.

While the deal gives millions of Liberty Global subscribers more convenient access to compelling Netflix videos, it’s a potential concern for cable companies as they also compete with streaming services to attract more users, said Paul Sweeney, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence.

“Comcast and Liberty may be running the risk of letting the fox in the hen house by facilitating their subscribers’ access to online streaming video services,” Sweeney said.

Shares of Netflix, which had 83.2 million subscribers globally as of the second quarter, rose 1.9 percent to $97.93 at 12:12 p.m. in New York. The stock was down 16 percent this year as of Tuesday’s close. Liberty Global gained 0.5 percent to $32.58.

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