Netflix jumped back into the net neutrality debate.
The streaming giant on Wednesday filed its public comment in support of the principles of an open internet, part of the feedback process held by the Federal Communications Commission. Netflix, a longtime supporter for net neutrality, echoed many of the same sentiments as before. But within the 31-page filing was a subtle, but sharp jab at Comcast and its Peacock streaming service.
In discussing the potential abuse of power that an internet service provider has in both owning the pipes to deliver internet and content as well as some of the streaming services that offer that content, Netflix threw in a footnote reference about Comcast’s Peacock, which exclusively streamed the AFC Wild Card game last Sunday. Without directly saying so, Netflix took issue with Comcast’s decision to exclusively stream the NFL playoff game on Peacock, which the cable TV provider owns. Netflix argues that if internet service providers like Comcast engage in “non-neutral behavior,” it will “undermine competition” and ultimately “harm consumers.”
Peacock said the AFC Wild Card game was the biggest live-streamed event in U.S. history, reaching 23 million viewers, and was hailed as a success by parent Comcast. But not everyone was happy with the development. House Rep. Pat Ryan, a democrat from New York, slammed Peacock and the NFL for the move and demanded it be moved back on broadcast TV. During the Needham Growth Conference, Fubo’s CEO, David Gandler said he was “horrified” at Comcast’s decision, calling it a bad decision from a business and consumer standpoint.
Netflix also used it as ammunition in its argument supporting net neutrality.
“Many ISPs have affiliated Pay TV and/or streaming content services that directly compete with independent, online content companies. ISPs with affiliated services have a clear incentive to advantage their affiliated services by either degrading the quality of their competitors’ content or increasing their competitors’ costs,” Netflix told the Federal Communications Commission.
Net neutrality — which the FCC wants to revive — is a principle that internet service providers must treat all data on the internet the same. The FCC spent months holding an open call for public comment, which it closed a day after Netflix submitted its filing.
The news was reported earlier by Policyband.
The rest of the filing held many of the standard arguments in support of net neutrality, including the fair treatment of traffic and the need to ensure that the ISPs don’t prioritize or de-prioritize internet traffic based on how much they charge. The FCC and Democrats argue net neutrality is necessary to prevent potential abuses, and that the move to so-called Title II regulations gives the agency more enforcement power. The ISPs and Republicans argue that the regulations are antiquated and that the rules aren’t necessary since there have been few instances of abuses even after the previous FCC regime stripped out prior net neutrality laws.
Spokesmen for Peacock and Comcast weren’t immediately available for comment.