How times change.
After a nasty spat involving both companies slightly more than two years ago, Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) and Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) are now chill with each other. The latest evidence of their warm vibes is the announcement by Comcast that customers of its Xfinity service can watch Netflix for free during its Xfinity Watchathon Week between April 3 and April 9. To be sure, the online streaming service faces fierce competition for viewer eyeballs from TV industry veterans such as Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. (FOX) and CBS Corporation (CBS), which are among the 50 networks participating in the Watchathon week. (See also: Who Are Netflix's Main Competitors?)
Still, Netflix's inclusion on the list is an achievement in itself when you consider that it accused Comcast of extortion in 2014 after the cable provider refused to pay extra charges as broadband fees. Nonetheless, as the relationship improved between the two companies, Comcast included Netflix on its set-top box last November. As part of that partnership, viewers could stream content from Netflix for free during a one-month trial period. Comcast has 22.3 million television customers and 23.3 internet customers. The Philadelphia-based company has reported solid profits from its broadband and internet services, even as its cable business has declined. (See also: Comcast Sees a Good 2017 Thanks to NBCUniversal.)
Recent conversion rates (or the rate at which trial customers convert to subscription services) for Netflix are not known. Back in 2011, Eric Wold, analyst at Merriman Capital, estimated that Netflix had a 93% conversion rate. Given that its content library has expanded and the service has premium content in the form of original programming, Netflix's conversion rate should have gone up, in all probability. When Netflix's availability on Comcast's set-top boxes was announced last November, analysts estimated that it could result in the addition of 4 million to 5 million domestic subscribers. (See also: Netflix Stock Pops 5% on Comcast Set-Top Deal.)
During its third quarter earnings last year, Netflix reported a paltry increase of 0.37 million subscribers. However, the company's domestic subscriber count shot up by 1.93 million in its most recent quarter. When the Comcast integration was announced last November, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made the case that the X1 service integration would make Netflix easier to use. "Our increase is the word-of mouth and all of these MVPD integrations help just like being integrated in smart televisions," he said. (See also: Why Netflix, Comcast Went From Enemies to Friends.)