×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Netflix Now Tells Users When Their ISPs Are Slow in Web Browser Messages

Verizon calls streamer's move to point out congestion a 'PR stunt'

Netflix has launched a new tool to point out to customers when their broadband providers are failing to deliver enough bandwidth to stream “House of Cards” or “Orange Is the New Black.”

The No. 1 subscription VOD service first started ranking ISPs by the quality of video streaming in early 2011. The Netflix “speed index,” which measures the average bandwidth of a user based on provider, has been part of an ongoing effort to encourage ISPs to install caching servers to improve performance.

Now, Netflix is informing customers who are experiencing buffering delays that their Internet service provider is congested, directly in the browser they’re using to stream video — and it’s naming names.

The development came to light Tuesday, when Vox Media’s Yuri Victor tweeted the image of a Netflix browser message that said, “The Verizon network is crowded right now.”

On Twitter, Netflix chief communications officer Jonathan Friedland confirmed that the message was authentic. “We’re always testing new ways to keep members informed,” he tweeted.

Verizon spokesman Alberto Canal, asked for comment, said: “This is a PR stunt. We’re investigating this claim but it seems misleading and could confuse people.”

SEE ALSO: Netflix Remains King of Bandwidth Usage, While YouTube Declines

Netflix consumes around one-third of all downstream Internet traffic during peak periods in North America, and the issues surrounding the delivery of all those bits has flared into public disputes with some big ISPs.

In April, Netflix agreed to pay Verizon to directly connect to the telco’s network, after striking a similar deal with Comcast. That’s not Netflix’s preference: CEO Reed Hastings said the company reluctantly agreed to those agreements, but has advocated a position that content services like Netflix shouldn’t have to pay a “toll” to ISPs to reach broadband users.

With the new browser message, “Netflix is looking to harness the power of its subscriber base to drive its message home to regulators and politicians,” BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield wrote in a blog post. “Essentially Netflix is saying, ‘Call Verizon, not us.'”

Netflix is trying to conflate the company’s disputes over paying for direct ISP connections — referred to as “paid peering” in the industry — with net neutrality. ISPs, and the Federal Communications Commission, have said the two issues are separate.

But Netflix has populist fervor on its side. The FCC has proposed new rules for net neutrality, which would allow for commercially “reasonable” deals under which content providers pay ISPs for dedicated bandwidth. One measure of Internet users’ passion about the subject: John Oliver, on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” this Sunday, urged viewers to register their comments about net neutrality on the FCC’s website — after which the commission’s comments system was knocked offline.

More Digital

  • Vaccination

    YouTube Yanks Ads From Anti-Vaccination Conspiracy Channels

    YouTube, under fire for facilitating the spread of conspiracy theories and other misinformation, said it will no longer serve ads on channels that espouse anti-vaccination rhetoric. The Google-owned video giant cited its advertising policy that bans “dangerous and harmful” content from eligibility in its monetization program. “We have strict policies that govern what videos we [...]

  • Evan Williams, Twitter founder (R) and

    Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams Steps Down From Company’s Board

    Twitter co-founder Evan “Ev” Williams is stepping down from the company’s board, Twitter announced in a SEC filing Friday afternoon. Williams will depart from the board at the end of this month, according to the filing. “It’s been an incredible 13 years, and I’m proud of what Twitter has accomplished during my time with the [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Facebook Shuts Down Controversial Ovano VPN App

    Responding to a continued backlash over its data collection practices, Facebook pulled the plug on its Ovano VPN app Friday. Ovano, which promised users an added level of privacy while using public Wifi hotspots, was used by Facebook for market research purposes. Facebook removed the app from the Google Play store Friday, and the company [...]

  • Smosh

    Smosh Acquired by Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment

    UPDATED: Smosh, the long-running YouTube comedy brand, has been acquired by Mythical Entertainment, the company formed by Rhett & Link, hosts of comedy show “Good Mythical Morning.” As first reported by Variety last week, Mythical emerged as the leading candidate to buy Smosh, which was left stranded after parent company Defy Media shut down without [...]

  • China Video Streaming Giant iQIYI Loses

    Chinese Video Giant iQIYI Loses $1.3 Billion in 2018

    Chinese video streaming firm iQIYI lost over $1.3 billion in 2018, as revenues and subscriber numbers ballooned. The deepening losses reflected ever higher spending on original content production. Announcing its first full-year financials since a March IPO that launched it onto the NASDAQ, iQIYI said that it lost $1.3 billion (RMB9.1 billion) last compared with [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Aims to Top $1 Billion in Revenue in 2019, Beats Holiday Quarter Earnings Expectations

    Roku wants to become a billion-dollar company in 2019, and invest more in its ongoing international expansion. The streaming-device maker told investors on Thursday that it expects to generate between $1 billion and $1.025 billion this year, and that international growth was one of its key investment areas for 2019. Roku made these announcements as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content