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Netflix Pays Comcast: Have the Cable Companies Won the Fight?

By Mark Reeth and Sean O'Reilly – Mar 9, 2014 at 9:00AM

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Net neutrality has fallen, and Netflix's payment to Comcast may have just opened the door for big wins for the cable companies.

Comcast (CMCSA 1.03%) has had a potentially game-changing string of victories recently. Over the past few weeks, the net neutrality rule preventing Internet service providers like Comcast from discriminating against Internet traffic and charging fees accordingly disappeared. Then, the company announced that it would acquire rival cable provider Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), combining the two largest cable providers in the U.S.

Most recently, Comcast and Netflix (NFLX 0.16%) announced that they've reached a deal in which Netflix will pay Comcast an undisclosed sum to allow Netflix viewers faster access to its streaming content. While Netflix's CFO David Wells has said that the "undisclosed amount" isn't significant enough to change the company's forecasts for the coming quarter, this move may open the door to a whole host of payments to Internet service providers now that net neutrality is gone, and in this segment from Thursday's Consumer Countdown, Motley Fool analysts Mark Reeth and Sean O'Reilly discuss how surprised they are that Netflix didn't put up more of a fight before forking over some money. Could this be a sign that the cable companies are going to continue to dominate for a long time to come? Mark and Sean discuss why Comcast looks like a raging buy at the moment, and they also look at the moves the company is making today, that may lead to free Wi-Fi Internet connections in every city somewhere soon down the road.

Mark Reeth has no position in any stocks mentioned. Sean O'Reilly has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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