Should cable providers work with Netflix, or should Comcast be very, very afraid?

On Wednesday, the world learned that the NFL is probably looking to expand its week night coverage with an additional Thursday Night Football game and that Netflix and Google Play were both involved in conversations about carrying the broadcast stream.

One of the more interesting aspects of the report is that the league has considered selling the Thursday night games to online sources like Netflix and Google.

This report comes a couple months after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly met with Google executives to discuss the league’s Sunday Ticket package. (The current deal with DirecTV ends after the 2014 season.)

Additionally, news recently broke indicating that Netflix might be considering a deal with the Goliath to its David that would add a Netflix chanel to cable television packages.

At a recent investor conference, Netflix Chief Financial Officer David Wells said the company would "love to reduce the friction to the end consumer" by being available on cable set-top boxes. It is up to pay-TV operators, he said, "to decide how much of a competitor they view us as or a complement."

Comcast, the largest U.S. pay-TV provider, earlier this year said it had no plans to add apps from online video services to its new Internet-connected set-top box, dubbed X1. But since rolling out the box in many markets this year, Comcast has become more open to having such conversations, people familiar with the matter say. Comcast is in talks with several other online video services about app deals for its set-top box, some of the people say. [WSJ]

Over at The Atlantic, Derek Thompson takes a look at whether pay-TV providers should consider Netflix a friend or foe and examines whether or not Netflix is living up to its potential as the killer of the classic cable TV model.

But here's the surprising part: All this growth isn't obviously coming at the expense of old-fashioned cable. The number of pay-TV households didn't decline in 2012, despite awful household formation. It grew, according to SNL Kagan, with fits and starts from quarter to quarter, as it has since the recession.

Netflix and cable TV are rivals, in a way. Young households, especially young single people living alone or with just one roommate, no doubt see Netflix as a nice alternative to full-blown cable, and at 1/9th the price.

But Netflix and cable are also complements. Most of the 100+ million TV-watching households still seem to consider Netflix a nice-to-have addition to their gotta-have linear programming. This rumored deal gives both sides something obvious. Cable companies would get America's most popular on-demand TV channel, making them more attractive. And Netflix would get easier access to millions of older families that have resisted streaming, because they prefer the old-fashioned couch-and-screen TV experience without fussing over Web boxes and iPad video.* [The Atlantic]