Last week, as a part of YouTube and T-Mobile’s joint announcement that YouTube was joining Binge On, T-Mobile CEO John Legere released a video to help sell the news. During that clip, he made reference to Netflix streaming on T-Mobile that was dropped to DVD-like quality with BingeOn enabled, but noted that the 480p resolution was better than what you would see at AT&T and Verizon, who were only “delivering” content for Netflix at 360p (clip here). The news was somewhat shocking, because no one had heard this before and either assumed Legere was talking out of his ass or knew something no one else knew. As it turns out, he may have had the inside track to information that even Verizon and AT&T weren’t aware of.
After that video showed, Verizon’s PR crew took to Twitter to attack Legere over the claims, saying that they weren’t throttling Netflix. Legere was quick to point out that he never said they were throttling, only that the content was coming across their network in 360p. You can see the exchange here.
What was he referring to? We think we now know.
Last night, Netflix told the Wall Street Journal that it has been throttling its content through both Verizon and AT&T without their knowledge. In fact, Netflix says that it has been throttling video playback through numerous carriers for five years as a way to protect customers from themselves. They have not been throttling streams at Sprint and T-Mobile because “historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies.” The thought was that Netflix users may have limited data plans and 360p streams could help them extend the use of those data plans or at the very least, not blow through those buckets too quickly.
AT&T is actually pissed about it and probably should be. An AT&T executive said that they are “outraged” to learn that Netflix has been throttling content without letting customers know. Verizon on the other hand, just said that they deliver whatever content providers are providing.
Alongside this acknowledgement from Netflix, the streaming company says that it will soon give customers more control over the quality of stream they see. By May, an update should arrive on the Netflix app with a “data saver” option that will allow customers to raise or lower the quality of streams when on mobile.
Is it just me, or is it not cool of everyone in this wireless industry to try and protect us from ourselves? Warnings and pop-ups and emails and all that are all we need to know about these types of issues. After that, let us make our own mistakes and learn from them.