The CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, is back at the proverbial podium and doing the Internet equivalent of stomping his feet and holding his breath with a written blast directed at Comcast. His claim is that Comcast is violating “net neutrality” principals by not treating all streaming content equally and favoring their own Web video service.
The bottom line? If you use a third-party app to stream your video content it will be counted toward your data consumption quotas while anything streamed using Comcast’s Xfinity app will not.
This may be contraversial for me to say, but so what? Why is Comcast obligated to treat all apps equally? If you are streaming content, you are using data. As far as I am concerned, it is just a nice perk that they let you use their app without restriction… a lovely ‘thanks for being a loyal customer’ incentive. Things would be different if Comcast was the only option available for Internet service, but with competition readily available you are free to move along to another provider if you are dissatisfied.
This isn’t the first time Hastings has taken aim at Comcast; last month he protested when it was discovered that Comcast was blocking HBO GO. The block has now been removed, but his new complaint will still apply –watching content through the HBO app will count toward his data cap.
Hastings’ decision to use Facebook as a lobbying platform is an interesting one and it gives us the chance to evaluate whether it is an effective tool in this regard. Most agree that it is an easy way to reach people but I wonder whether it looks more like the Internet equivalent of “inciting to riot” and less like a mature and capable leader looking to affect change in the business relationship between two companies.
The thing I take away from all of this is that even the Netflix CEO knows that he has to use more than one app to view the content he is interested in –perhaps he should be less focused on Comcast and worry more about how Netflix will evolve toward innovation instead of extinction.