Netflix is sick of catching all of the blame when its streaming-video service lags or can’t deliver high-definition quality content. The company’s new strategy? Blame Verizon — directly in the video player as the stream loads.
The move comes shortly after Netflix forged a paid-peering agreement with Verizon, which essentially makes the streaming video service more reliable and improves quality. For this, Netflix pays an undisclosed amount of money — a figure it hasn’t disclosed. It’s similar to the deal Netflix made with Comcast earlier this year, and just like that one the company isn’t happy about having to pay what it sees as unnecessary Internet tolls.
Above: The new in-player notifications Netflix is displaying for Verizon Internet subscribers experiencing streaming quality issues.
And while Netflix took to the news media to air its concerns over the Comcast deal, with Verizon its going a less direct route. Now, any time a video stream fails to load or load fast enough, Netflix will display a notification for Verizon subscribers in the video player that reads: “The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback. …”
The message doesn’t specifically call out Verizon for its role in abolishing “strong” net neutrality rules, Verizon’s bold-faced lies for why we don’t need new net neutrality rules, or even the paid-peering agreement. What it does do is send a clear message to Internet subscribers that the problem with their connection lies solely with the ISP (which in this case is Verizon).
It’s a smart move, because it lets consumers, not just Netflix, fight the battle for more reliable Internet. However, it’s also a bit curious because the paid peering agreement should have optimized the delivery of Netflix’s service to subscribers.
Netflix confirmed to VentureBeat that it was indeed sending out the in-player messages to Verizon customers, and offered the following statement:
We are testing ways to let consumers know how their Netflix experience is being affected by congestion on their broadband provider’s network. This is a small test in the United States that is not specific to any provider and started in early May.
And as Netflix said in the statement, Verizon isn’t the only ISP the company is mentioning in these new in-player messages. Netflix has sent the same message to AT&T customers as well, as you can see in the below tweet.