AMSTERDAM Liberty Global (LBTYA.O), the international telecommunications company controlled by American tycoon John Malone, said on Wednesday it has struck a deal to offer Netflix (NFLX.O) to all its customers directly via cable set-top boxes.
The deal follows the launch of Netflix by Liberty Global’s UK subsidiary Virgin Media in 2013. Liberty Global has 29 million customers in 30 countries.
Chief Executive Mike Fries said that subscribers in the UK with access to Netflix "pay more, churn less and are happier."
No financial details were disclosed, but under the deal Liberty Global will receive a share of revenues from Netflix for customers that subscribe to the service via Liberty boxes. Existing Netflix customers will simply be able to log in via the set-top box.
The companies will keep billing systems separate "initially," Liberty's managing director of business development Bob Greene told reporters at an event in Amsterdam.
He said that the launch of the Netflix app on Liberty boxes will begin immediately in the Netherlands, and be completed in all areas where Liberty Global operates by the end of 2017.
Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings said in a statement that integrating his company's service into Liberty set-top boxes would allow customers to use one remote control.
Greene deflected questions about whether Formula One Racing will be distributed on Liberty Global properties after Liberty Media (LMCA.O), also controlled by Malone, moved to take over the car racing sport last week.
"It very well could be", Greene said, but added that any licensing deal would have to be negotiated between the companies at arm's length.
Fries added that the deal "means nothing directly" for Liberty Global, but it was "nice to have (Formula One) in the family."
He said that neither the move by Liberty Media to buy Formula One nor the Netflix deal should be taken as evidence Liberty Global won't continue to acquire content itself.
"We're a very acquisitive company," he said.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle, Greg Mahlich)