Netflix desires cable deals to bring original content to set-top boxes

Netflix is earnestly investing in its original programming these days, and so far it’s been a remarkable success. Now, the company is looking to turn the popularity of shows like House of CardsArrested Development, and Orange is the New Black into leverage to cement deals with cable companies, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Specifically, Netflix wants to introduce its programming through a proprietary app in the set-top box — similar to what’s already available on streaming machines like the Roku and game consoles like the Xbox 360. While an app for a traditional set-top box is likely to eliminate one extra piece of hardware shoved into the entertainment console, many cable companies are demurring at one particular stipulation: that the cable boxes work with Open Connect technology that allows Netflix servers to directly access broadband providers’ networks. While Netflix insists that the technology is necessary to provide optimal streaming, WSJ says that Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and AT&T have already declined to use it.

It’s also a simple fact that Netflix is aligning itself to be in direct competition with the very companies it’s trying to make deals with. With Netflix’s original series winning Emmy awards and becoming buzzy around the workplace water cooler, cable companies run a risk of limiting viewership of their own programming in favor of the app.

So far, there have been no U.S. takers for Netflix’s set-top app (Although Virgin Media in the UK will be offering Netflix access to a portion of its customers). But, it’s a promising sign that traditional cable companies are trying to get more out of their hardware than barely-functioning entertainment bricks.