Netflix-Verizon Battle: How Would Traditional TV Networks Handle This?

The latest Netflix-Verizon battle underscores the true love of TV-quality transmission for video watchers.

Netflix singled out Verizon specifically for the slow delivery of Netflix’s programming. Verizon viewers waiting for a bit of content to load saw this message on their screens, from Netflix: "The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback."

We know streaming video isn’t the same as transmission via fiber optic cable or satellite. But for a TV content owner to call out a TV distributor via an on-air message? Wondering if CBS would ever complain via on-air to Comcast about pixelation/delay/ghosting over a “Good Wife” episode.

Netflix’s translation of this: “Hey, just keeping our partners on their toes.” The company says this was done to provide “transparency” to its consumers -- and that such messaging isn’t limited to only one provider like Verizon.



For its part, Verizon responded to Netflix, calling it a “PR stunt,” and more specifically pointing out that slow video delivery can also be blamed on “interconnection between multiple networks, and consumer-in-home issues such as in-home wiring, WiFi, and device settings and capabilities.”

We already have TV content owners and TV distributors in protracted carriage negotiations, with battles played out on respective company blogs and ads that come complete with name-calling.

Though rare, we know some network TV station affiliates can pre-empt programming they feels isn’t appropriate. But, in response, a TV network won’t air messages on TV stations airwaves complaining -- not that a particular TV station would allow such messaging criticism to run!

Netflix hasn’t been playing by the traditional rules for some time. That’s good and bad news. For example, unlike other TV networks/content providers, it refuses to release “ratings” information revealing any of its shows’ relative popularity. Not so much “transparency” in that regard for its consumers.

Verizon has issued a cease-and-desist order to Netflix. What alternatives does Verizon have? One guesses it could block Netflix in some way. If and when that happens, we’ll be entering  another new kind of TV business relationship that new platforms -- and perhaps a few old ones -- will need to notice.


2 comments about "Netflix-Verizon Battle: How Would Traditional TV Networks Handle This?".
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  1. Jonathan McEwan from MediaPost, June 9, 2014 at 2:09 p.m.

    For the record, Netflix is not a TV network. They are a Web-based content provider. As they are not advertising supported, they do not need ratings, just paying members. It is up to them to deem a show worthy of shelling out the bucks to give a show a second and third season.

    As for Verizon, they are acting as an ISP and should be providing unfettered access to the Internet. It's called net neutrality. And if that is not the case, the message that Web access is being in anyway CENSORED by any ISP whatsoever, whether by Verizon or anyone else — this fact should be blasted in every media outlet in the country. The consumer should know what kind of company is providing that vital service and choose their Internet providers carefully. The fact that content they want may be choked for political or business reasons should be part of that decision making. I know that if this is indeed the case here, I would not want to do any business with Verizon whatsoever.

  2. Edmund Singleton from Winstion Communications, June 10, 2014 at 8:16 a.m.

    The bottom line is that we, the consumer, are at the mercy of the five mob controlled families in our area. They have an agreement not to cross a certain line which give us no option to change provider for a better deal. And now they want us to consider giving them more power to control prices over a wider area...the consumer is all dressed up and no place to go...

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