Science and Tech


Netflix Testing Alert That Shames ISPs For Slow Streaming

Netflix is testing a new feature that alerts users when network congestion is causing poor-quality videos and slow streaming.
Posted at 2:29 PM, Jun 04, 2014

Netflix isn't messing around when it comes to slow streaming.

Twitter user Yuri Victor posted this screengrab, which seems to show Netflix blaming poor streaming speeds on Internet service provider Verizon.

Apparently the company is tired of being blamed for blurry, pixilated video and excruciatingly long buffer periods.

Netflix CCO Jonathan Friedland replied to Victor on Twitter, saying Netflix is "always testing new ways to keep members informed."

But a writer for The Verge says it's more than just a way to keep users informed — it's a way to place blame and get consumers riled up enough to support net neutrality, like Netflix does.

"Getting its subscribers to understand who is at fault for hurting their streaming speeds can only help Netflix in its fight for net neutrality ... Should the new message be rolled out widely, it'll certainly start getting people frustrated with just who Netflix wants." (Via The Verge)

So Netflix is sort of saying, look, we paid them the money, and they're still not improving your streaming speeds. We've held up our end of the bargain. Now, it's their turn.  

And Re/code says the move is starting to show a pattern. ​"Earlier this year, Netflix signed a Web traffic deal with Comcast, then complained about it." Now it's doing the same with Verizon. 

Well, kind of. Netflix told Re/code the message isn't Verizon-specific; it's a feature that will alert members on any ISP "when their network is congested."

Verizon-specific or not, the ISP isn't happy. Variety reports Verizon said in a statement, "This is a PR stunt. We're investigating this claim but it seems misleading and could confuse people."

We want to know what you think. Would you be confused by such an alert? Join the conversation on Twitter.