The proposal could create new competition to cable providers like Comcast.
The Federal Communications Commission is considering whether to treat certain online video services the same way it treats cable and satellite TV providers.The move would help the online services get cheaper access to major network programming and could allow them to become stronger competitors to the dominant pay-TV providers like Comcast.
"This is a very big deal," said Richard Greenfield, an industry analyst for BTIG. "It could pose very significant challenges to the traditional [cable TV] bundle."
The FCC's Media Bureau is working on the proposal, which could be shared more broadly within the commission as early as this week, according to an FCC official.
Kim Hart, an FCC spokesman, declined to comment.
The proposal would apply only to online services that offer streams of prescheduled programming. So the rules wouldn't cover Netflix, which allows subscribers to watch videos whenever they want.
But it could revive the controversial online video service Aereo, which allowed subscribers to watch broadcast TV channels on their computers and Internet-connected TVs. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that Aereo was stealing the broadcasters' copyrighted content.