Netflix Says It'll Be Fine Without Net Neutrality Rules; But What About The Next Netflix?
from the different-scenarios dept
A few folks are covering the news that Netflix has talked about the recent ruling tossing out the FCC’s net neutrality rules, saying in a letter to investors that it’s really no big deal. The key message is, basically, that Netflix will be watching closely to see if anyone violates net neutrality, either by seeking payment for preferential treatment or degrading other traffic, and will then alert its millions of members to scream loudly about how so-and-so broadband provider is a jerk:
Unfortunately, Verizon successfully challenged the U.S. net neutrality rules. In principle, a domestic ISP now can legally impede the video streams that members request from Netflix, degrading the experience we jointly provide. The motivation could be to get Netflix to pay fees to stop this degradation. Were this draconian scenario to unfold with some ISP, we would vigorously protest and encourage our members to demand the open Internet they are paying their ISP to deliver.
The most likely case, however, is that ISPs will avoid this consumer-unfriendly path of discrimination. ISPs are generally aware of the broad public support for net neutrality and don’t want to galvanize government action.
There is, in fact, something to this. And it’s part of the reason why we were nervous about the FCC’s rules in the first place. We still think the real answer is more competition.
Still, there are some issues with Netflix’s claims. First, if certain providers feel confident that there isn’t significant and credible competition, it may decide to weather the storm of user anger. It’s not like broadband providers are currently particularly well-liked. In fact, they’re not. They’re almost universally hated. If there’s no real competition, they might not care enough to stop.
But, really, the bigger issue is that if there is a real net neutrality violation, it’s not going to impact the big internet companies so much. Netflx, Google, Amazon — those guys are fine. The issue is the new upstarts and innovators. The companies who can’t unleash tens of millions of angry customers to scream out about how ridiculous a new block or degraded traffic is. Worst case, Netflix can pay up. The next guy? Might not be so easy. Even worse… that next guy might not even try, because the “cost of entry” will be too high.
Netflix has always been a good player on this issue, and hopefully they do stick to their word and promise to protest and alert others to protest. But the real concern needs to be not just about how Netflix deals with this issue, but what it means for the next Netflix.