Netflix, Comcast Reach Streaming Agreement

Under the deal, Netflix will pay Comcast a fee to ensure its movies and TV shows stream smoothly. Consumers complain they encounter buffering and slowdowns when they try to access Netflix shows.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And let's turn to the entertainment business. Netflix wants to ensure that consumers have smooth access to its programs, so it has agreed to pay Comcast for that assurance by allowing Netflix direct access to the cable company's high-speed network. The deal comes at a time when cable customers are complaining they encounter buffering and slowdowns when trying to stream Netflix videos.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Neither Netflix nor Comcast would reveal the terms of the deal announced yesterday, but a source familiar with the agreement said Netflix will pay Comcast to connect to its network more directly, bypassing some of the Internet companies that now act as middlemen for digital traffic.

Analyst Ken Doctor, of Outsell, says that should resolve many of the buffering complaints that Comcast customers have had about Netflix.

KEN DOCTOR: And that's what's important to that consumer effect of getting Netflix more directly to consumers; less buffering, less problems in the watching experience.

ZARROLI: Netflix has been locked in a big battle with major Internet providers over the kind of access it gets to the web. It's been unable to reach agreement with some of the biggest providers, such as Verizon and AT&T. But Comcast is seeking regulatory approval for its giant merger with Time Warner Cable, and may have been trying to resolve what threatened to be a major public relations problem. Critics say the deal underscores the power of giant cable companies that can charge content providers for access to the Web.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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