When it comes to Internet streaming, could Reed Hastings be turning into the voice of the people? That’s a bizarro thought, considering how the Netflix CEO has very publicly botched its business initiatives and public relations. (Remember the debacle of Quikster? Hastings did an about-face and yanked it pronto after a very public backlash.)
So the exec’s not exactly known for keeping his finger on the pulse of mainstream users. And yet, he’s been dishing about some interesting issues lately. Last month Hastings hit up Facebook, calling out Comcast for blocking HBO Go on the Xbox — which is strange, considering Netflix considers HBO a competitor. (A week later, Comcast caved and announced it would enable HBO Go.)
Seems Hastings has some sort of ax to grind with the cable operator, because he’s at it again. This time, his Facebook post took aim at Comcast’s apparent disregard for net neutrality: Data from the Xfinity streaming app on the Xbox doesn’t count toward the company’s broadband data cap of 250 GB, while data from others (including Hulu, HBO Go and, yes, Netflix) does. Wrote Hastings: “If I watch last night’s SNL episode on my Xbox through the Hulu app, it eats up about one gigabyte of my cap, but if I watch that same episode through the Xfinity Xbox app, it doesn’t use up my cap at all.”
Indeed, this practice artificially inflates Xfinity streaming’s popularity, while prompting users away from competitive offerings. If competitors go bust, then the streaming industry could wind up like the cable operators: A few major players controlling the content, packaging and prices.
“Comcast no longer following net neutrality principles. Comcast should apply caps equally, or not at all,” he wrote.
Do you agree? Should Comcast stop giving its own app preferential treatment and conform to network neutrality? Or are these the touchy rantings of a CEO looking for ways to attack another company, which is only making smart business decisions? Weigh in.