Netflix CEO: ‘Net neutrality advocates have won the day’

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at the company’s Australian launch.

Image by Claire Reilly/Techhnews

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings played down the rollback of net neutrality regulations in the US. 

“Around the world net neutrality has won as a consumer expectation,” Hastings said Monday during a video discussion of Netflix’s second-quarter financial performance. “Broadly around the world consumers have the expectation and ISPs are delivering it,” he added, referring to Internet service providers. 

“The net neutrality advocates have won the day in terms of those expectations,” he said.

Even in the US, where stricter net neutrality protections were rolled back earlier this year, Netflix doesn’t expect that dynamic to change, he added. 

Net neutrality, the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated the same, has been a lightning-rod issue in the US. The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal 2015 net neutrality regulations that set expansive rules, like prohibiting broadband providers from blocking or slowing down traffic or offering so-called fast lanes to companies that pay extra to reach consumers more quickly. 

As one of the biggest streaming video companies in the world, Netflix is less threatened by US net neutrality changes than video startups would be. Under current rules, connectivity service providers like AT&T, Verizon or Comcast could give their own content priority on their networks, hurting video competitors. But Netflix’s popularity as a subscription streaming video service means ISPs would be suppressing Netflix at their own peril — their networks becomes less attractive to nearly 60 million US consumers if they have a harder time streaming Stranger Things. 

Smaller startups hoping to become the next Netflix don’t have built-in widespread consumer demand to protect them. 

Earlier Monday, Netflix reported that it crossed the point where most of its streaming revenue comes from outside the US. But the streaming-video company’s overall subscriber growth was weaker than expected, and shares tanked 14 percent to $345 in after-hours trading.

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