Is Comcast Invading Netflix’s Turf?

Company starts bidding on films that used to go to HBO, Netflix.

Hot on the heels of reports raising questions of whether Comcast is “throttling” Netflix, the Wall Street Journal reports that Comcast is apparently ready to compete directly with the Internet video company: It is bidding for the “pay window” rights to show Despicable Me 2—a movie that, under usual recent circumstances, might’ve been expected to appear on Netflix.


All six major film studios have deals with HBO, Starz, Epix or Netflix that tie up the pay-TV rights to their releases for many years to come. That means companies like Comcast can pursue such rights only on a one-off basis.

Should Universal and Comcast make a deal, it would be the first time that a cable television provider has acquired the exclusive pay-TV rights to a movie, making it free to subscribers, said several people familiar with the talks.

Comcast also has a small service called Streampix that offers subscribers older movies and television shows for $4.99 a month. That offering, too, could be part of a “Despicable Me 2” deal.

That news seems likely to raise a few eyebrows in light of Netflix’s Comcast problem. But it also might offer information about the long-term viability of how a giant cable company—one that is now attempting to buy Time Warner Cable—might be able to fight off so-called “cord-cutters” who have left cable for services like Netflix and Hulu Plus: By competing with those services on their own turf.