Netflix Throttling and Buffer Rage Interview with Nile Nickel

KNL LogoKNX - CBS Los Angeles

Los Angeles California – March 24, 2016  – This is a mobile issue, but as more users consume all of their content via their mobile devices it is a bigger issue. Strictly speaking just because you are on a mobile device you shouldn’t be limited to lower quality content. But what is the big Netflix’s controversy?

It all started when T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere outed Netflix via a post on Twitter by saying that AT&T and Verizon customers get lower quality video from Netflix that T-Mobile users do. Ouch . . . ,  You might remember that T-Mobile launched “Binge On” in late 2015, it offered unlimited streaming of Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Google Play and other Internet entertainment providers without those views counting toward a subscriber’s monthly data limits. T-Mobile launched Binge On as a marketing hook to differentiate itself from competitors AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, by offering video streams that don’t count as part of the monthly data charges. The video image is presented in lower, 480p resolution, far lower than the higher-def 720p or 1080p.

Well as you might imagine AT&T, Verizon and Netflix are none to happy with T-Mobile surprise announcement. Netflix is already trying to put their best spin on this revelation, see their press release below.   

Really a slap in the face for Netflix as they have been a longtime proponent of the Open Internet, or net neutrality, proposal. But its ability to throttle content leads to a double standard, said Randolph May, president of free market think tank the Free State Foundation. “Netflix’s complete lack of transparency about the practice, especially in light of its strident advocacy against treating Internet communications differentially … is pretty stunning,” he said.

A two-hour HD movie can eat up 6 Gigabytes of mobile data, but watching at lower resolutions can reduce data by as much as 90%. Customer testing done by Netflix has found that subscribers “don’t need the same resolution on their mobile phone as on a large screen TV to enjoy shows and movies,”

Buffer Rage

What is the new term we call “Buffer Rage?” Did you know that many millennials suffer from video buffer rage more frequently than road rage? “Buffering appears to be quite a big problem in the streaming industry, with 34 percent of respondents noting buffering issues in one of every three video programs.” Given the increasing prevalence of video streaming via mobile devices, it’s a bit alarming that consumers reportedly experience the most Buffer Rage when watching content on their smartphones.

What exactly is Buffer Rage and why is it taking over?

Simple test – Has your viewing or listening experience of streaming content ever been interrupted by the frustration of buffering? How does it make you feel? Does your heart rate increase? Does your jaw clench? Do you have the urge to throw something? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have suffered from Buffer Rage.

Buffer Rage, defined as “a state of uncontrollable fury or violent anger induced by the delayed or interrupted enjoyment of streaming video content from providers like iTunes, Netflix, Hulu or YouTube.” With cord cutting on the rise, and nearly three out of every four consumers watching streaming video on a regular basis (43 percent) or weekly (31 percent), IneoQuest determined that better understanding the implications of the Buffer Rage epidemic is essential for all members of the streaming crowd.

  • 58% experience their highest level of stress when buffering occurs while they’re using their mobile device
  • 66% just lose it when mid-roll buffering ruins their experience, worse than buffering at the beginning
  • When buffering occurs during a sporting event a third of all men fly off the handle. They’re not good sports about it!

 


 

As Released on Nexflix Media Center (The PR Spin)

March 24, 2016

Helping Netflix Members Get More from Their Mobile Data Plans

As consumers increasingly watch video over mobile networks, Netflix is constantly exploring ways to give members more control over their Netflix experience. That’s why we will soon introduce a data saver feature designed for mobile apps.

The data saver feature will provide members with more control over their data usage when streaming on mobile networks, allowing them to either stream more video under a smaller data plan, or increase their video quality if they have a higher data plan. We’re on track to make it available to members sometime in May.

We believe restrictive data caps are bad for consumers and the Internet in general, creating a dilemma for those who increasingly rely on their mobile devices for entertainment, work and more. So in an effort to protect our members from overage charges when they exceed mobile data caps, our default bitrate for viewing over mobile networks has been capped globally at 600 kilobits per second. It’s about striking a balance that ensures a good streaming experience while avoiding unplanned fines from mobile providers.

This hasn’t been an issue for our members. Our research and testing indicates that many members worry about exceeding their mobile data cap, and don’t need the same resolution on their mobile phone as on a large screen TV to enjoy shows and movies. However, we recognize some members may be less sensitive to data caps or subscribe to mobile data plans from carriers that don’t levy penalties for exceeding caps. As we develop new technologies, we want to give all our members the choice to adjust their data consumption settings based on their video preferences and sensitivity to their ISPs data overage charges. We’ll provide more details as we get closer to launch.

–Anne Marie

Anne Marie Squeo is a member of the Netflix communications team.