Apple vs. Netflix: Does new deal with Comcast mean new video streaming battleground?

UPDATE: Apple shares have reportedly surged on the back of the latest news about a potential partnership with Comcast. Netflix, by way of contrast, has allegedly tumbled on the stock market.

Apparently Apple is talking to cable company Comcast over in the US with a view to partnering to provide a very speedy video streaming service, at least if the usual sources in the know are to be believed.

These talks are apparently in the early stages, according to the Wall Street Journal, but a deal would see Comcast ensure that TV shows streamed to an Apple set-top box would be able to sidestep potential Internet congestion and the dreaded buffering icon that is the scourge of streamed video viewing.

Apple actually wants to ink a deal whereby the cable provider would separate its video streaming service from other public Internet traffic over the "last mile" – the final part of the broadband pipe just before the viewer's home. That would mean slick speeds could (in theory) be guaranteed, particularly for those with meaty broadband connections, who would presumably be able to stream some pretty high-res content with a clear line at the end where it's normally prone to clogging.

Let's not get carried away, though, as a source familiar with the negotiations told WSJ that a deal isn't even close yet – and that the realisation of this scheme would obviously require quite a heavy level of investment on Comcast's part, when it comes to changing its networking infrastructure to accommodate Apple's plans.

If this deal goes through, however, this will obviously have major repercussions in the video streaming world – and indeed in the arena of net neutrality.

Tim Cook recently said that Apple TV was making good money now, and Cupertino was going to push harder on this front – so perhaps this really is the beginning of something major.