Uh oh, things just got real in the entertainment sandbox for streaming content. Netflix suffered a tumble to not only its vulnerable stock shares today, but also to its precarious perch as the reigning king of the hill in entertainment streaming. HBO with Big Brother Time Warner looking on in approval, announced its plans to offer stand alone content streaming to consumers. Netflix has to feel like the bullied kid on the playground now that HBO, Not waiting for the FCC to make a decision on Net Neutrality, has flexed its muscles to go around that barrier. Time Warner, standing with its underling also announced their decision not to side with Netflix in that fight.
Netflix is hoping to expand the definition of what Net Neutrality is. There has been a great outcry from some big tech companies as well, such as Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Intel, and eBay, to much more diverse companies such as the American Library Association and Moveon.org to name a few. But with media and entertainment giants like HBO and Time Warner being backed by AT&T and Verizon, the fight has only gotten uglier. It is the equivalent of a tragic comedy, with the smaller, more numerous small fries up against the few big shots. In an effort to help decide the future of the internet, The FCC for a short time allowed the public to give their opinions.
Although that public option officially closed on September 15 of this year, consumers can still sign petitions and leave comments to be filed by support groups. In the midst of all this, poor Netflix has to endure more damage to its precious audience pool. Netflix took a stinging blow when it hiked subscription prices and made changes to the way it offers its content bundles. For a while it looked as though Netflix only needed to worry about small newcomers and other companies like Hulu and Roku for example. Now the content games have taken a serious downward turn for Netflix as it scrambles to regroup from the bullying tactics by HBO and the big bad Time Warner.
Time Warner execs have stated that they see the future of paying for more broadband as the natural evolution for what would be the former net neutrality. The former because it goes against the fundamental tenets of what net neutrality is. It would literally be pay for play, something else altogether. But HBO is hungry for those over 80 million consumers who do not have cable. They are slathering for a piece of the pie with cord cutters, those with no interest in paying for expensive phone and cable bundles. Time Warner feels like it shouldn’t continue trying to push cable on its customers, but instead offer those broadband only users what they want. HBO Go without that bothersome cable cord could prove quite attractive to many.
Now that Netflix is faced with this new dilemma, it will have to hold out hope that new cable cutters will end up as their new customers. Netflix may be feeling bullied by HBO and Time Warner, but its a brave and clever young company and will surely muster up the moxie to keep itself in the game as a lead player.
By Mai Nowlin
Photo Courtesy Flickr-Creative Commons License