Netflix's controversial deal with Comcast is already paying dividends... that is, if you are a Comcast Internet subscriber. According to the latest Netflix ISP speed index, the provider moved up to the fifth overall position in March with an average speed of 2.50Mbps and is now within .5Mbps of the top spot.

In an accompanying blog post on the matter, Netflix said the latest monthly rankings are a great illustration of how performance can improve when ISPs work to connect directly to Netflix. Under the new agreement, speeds over Comcast's network in the US shot up 65 percent - up from a lowly 1.51Mbps in January.

The streaming outfit said they are also seeing early improvements on Telenor-owned ISPs in Denmark, Norway and Sweden after they agreed to directly connect their network with Netflix.

The Netflix ISP speed index is based on data from more than 44 million Netflix members around the globe. Collectively, these users view over a billion hours of TV shows and movies each month. The index's average speed is an indicator of the performance typically experienced across all users on a particular ISP.

If you recall, Netflix signed a deal with Comcast in February that allowed the streaming service to connect directly with their network in multiple locations instead of having to route traffic through third-party content delivery companies. This added step is the reason that many believe service quality has degraded over time.

Netflix said those on faster networks generally get better picture quality, quicker start times and fewer interruptions during playback.