Netflix fired back at Comcast’s claims that the streaming-video company is among those seeking “extortionate” demands with the MSO’s proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable, as the war of words between the biggest cable company and No. 1 video-streaming service rages on.
“It is not extortion to demand that Comcast provide its own customers the broadband speeds they’ve paid for so they can enjoy Netflix,” Netflix said in a statement, responding to the cable company’s FCC filing Wednesday. “It is extortion when Comcast fails to provide its own customers the broadband speed they’ve paid for unless Netflix also pays a ransom.”
Comcast, in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission, said Netflix’s complaints are not “transaction specific.” Netflix has argued that the FCC should reject the merger, warning that Comcast will be in a position to demand arbitrary fees from content companies to connect to its networks.
But Comcast noted that it reached an interconnection agreement with Netflix earlier this year, and in its filing quoted Netflix CEO Reed Hastings as saying, “We found middle ground on our issues that worked well for both of us for the long term, and works great for consumers.”
Netflix now says it “grudgingly paid to improve performance for our mutual customers, a precedent that remains damaging for consumers (who ultimately pay higher costs) and for other innovative businesses (that can be held over the barrel by Comcast to do the same),” the company said in its statement.
But according to Comcast, Netflix’s “expedient change of heart reflects nothing more than a base attempt to gain additional commercial advantages over Comcast through a regulatory condition that is unjustified and would be anything but ‘great’ for consumers,” the cable giant said in its filing.
Netflix countered that Comcast’s $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable would give it unprecedented control over the U.S. broadband market. “If the merger were to proceed, this one company, Comcast, would have control over high-speed residential Internet in a majority of American homes and that is clearly not ‘great’ for consumers,” Netflix said.