T-Mobile’s Binge On program has faced a barrage of criticism from YouTube, the EFF, and other Net neutrality advocates, but this week Netflix CEO Reed Hastings voiced his support for the service in an earnings interview.
Referring to Binge On in a question about Verizon’s new sponsored data service, Hastings said that “T-Mobile is making unlimited video consumption a possibility, with freedom from worrying about the data caps.” The CEO also said video viewing is going up on T-Mobile, and the program is seeing great reception among Netflix users.
In a follow up question from Re/Code’s Peter Kafka, Hastings alluded to the differences between Binge On and Comcast’s secretive data cap program, saying that T-Mobile allows users to opt-out and providers don’t have to pay to join the program — two things unavailable on Comcast’s program.
Binge On, for those who don’t know, is T-Mobile’s new video optimization program. It lowers the video quality to 480p+ in exchange for waiving the data cost, allowing users to watch unlimited video without going over their monthly data cap. Most of the big video services support the program, but Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, and Vimeo have not joined.
Netflix was one of Binge On’s launch services, which may explain why Hastings would be in favor of the program. He said that Netflix would be interested in other programs that offer similar features to Binge On in the future, though we doubt he was referring to Verizon’s FreeBee or AT&T’s sponsored service, where providers have to pay to waive the data cost.
Of course, Netflix’s support for Binge On isn’t likely to change the opinion of the various Net neutrality and consumer advocacy groups that have called out T-Mobile for Binge On. The growing tension may force the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to look into Binge On, as the agency has already sent letters to Comcast, AT&T, and T-Mobile to find out more about these zero data services.
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