Money Minute: Netflix, Comcast Strike Deal; Apple, Samsung Back in Court


Netflix wins the race for speed -- but at what cost to consumers?

Netflix (NFLX) has agreed to pay Comcast (CMCSA) (CMCSK) to ensure that its programs will be streamed without interference -- making it faster for Netflix customers to download programs. Comcast had reportedly slowed the speed on some transmission, and since its recent agreement to buy Time Warner Cable (TWC), resolving this became a priority for Netflix. What makes this important to all of us -- Netflix subscriber or not -- is that this deal could set a precedent for the way cable companies deal with other content providers. It's not clear yet if Netflix subscribers will have to pay more.

You may have heard of net neutrality. That's the government's attempt to prevent deals like this on the belief that big companies like Netflix will be able to pay, but smaller, start-ups won't. In the long run, that could limit consumer choice. But a court recently ruled the Federal Communications Commission overstepped its authority with the net neutrality rules.

Two other big companies were unable to settle their long-running dispute. Apple (AAPL) and Samsung have been at war over patent rights about the technology that goes into their iPhone and Galaxy smartphones. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Top executives from both companies held a series of meeting with court appointed mediators to resolve the suits and counter-suits against each other, but to no avail. So it appears they're headed back to court next month.

Here on Wall Street last week, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) edged lower, while the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) posted a modest gain.

The North Dakota energy boom has led the resurgence of domestically produced oil and gas. But The Wall Street Journal reports the crude oil shipped from there contains several times the amount of combustible gas as oil produced elsewhere. That could be a contributing factor in a series of railcar explosions including some that led to multiple fatalities.

Finally, the Postal Service is planning to issue a stamp featuring Steve Jobs, the late founder of Apple. Published reports say other famous Americans that will be immortalized on a stamp include rock legends Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.