April 25, 2014 — Switching back and forth between cable TV programming and offerings from streaming video service Netflix is about to get a lot less complicated for some Central Texans. San Marcos-based Grande Communications is one of three cable providers that will be first in the nation to integrate the Netflix app into its cable boxes, the company said Friday. The other two cable providers are RCN Telecom Services and Atlantic Broadband, which both primarily serve cities in the Northeastern U.S. The move will allow subscribers to access live TV, programs recorded using TiVo’s digital video recorder technology and Netflix streaming video all with a single cable box operated with a single remote control – and without a rat’s nest of tangled cords and cables – executives said. “Now, watching Netflix is as easy as changing the channel,” Atlantic Broadband chief marketing and strategy officer David Isenberg said.
To take advantage of the new feature, Grande, RCN and Atlantic Broadband customers must subscribe separately to Netflix, which starts at about $8 per month. There is no extra fee to access Netflix TV shows and movies via the companies’ cable boxes. “The dynamics of this game-changing relationship are clear: more choices for the viewer via a simple, unified device,” Grande CEO Jim Holanda said. “The ability to seamlessly deliver new volumes of entertainment through industry leaders Netflix and TiVo is yet another way we are providing the best in customer convenience and satisfaction.” Netflix, which is also accessible on Internet-connected devices such as laptops and tablets, features a library of thousands of commercial-free films and TV shows from a variety of studios. It has recently ventured into producing some of its own exclusive content, as well, including TV shows “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.” “Atlantic Broadband, Grande and RCN are making it even easier for their customers to watch Netflix on their TVs,” Bill Holmes, head of business development at Netflix, said in a written statement. “Not only are they the first U.S. cable providers to offer Netflix on their set-top boxes, they have also directly connected their networks to Netflix, enabling a better viewing experience with faster startup times and superior image quality.”
The Netflix deal is Grande’s second big technology advance so far this year. In February, the company beat two much larger competitors – Google and AT&T U-verse – in offering ultra-fast 1-gigabit Internet service in the Austin market. Grande is available in about 75,000 area homes, primarily in San Marcos, West Austin and areas near downtown Austin. The company has been expanding its footprint recently, mainly via wiring apartment complexes under construction around town.
By Gary Dinges Austin American-Statesman www.austin360.com © 2014 Cox Media Group.