Netflix continues to track which ISPs offer the best Netflix streams despite changing a policy that now lets its subscribers access the Netflix “Super HD” library whether or not their ISPs are members of Open Connect, a private CDN initiative that installs private caches at the edge of the network.
Before that change, Super HD streams (including 3D content) were offered only to Netflix subs who got broadband from ISPs that were part of Open Connect. Historically, ISPs that were part of Open Connect (Google Fiber, Cablevision Systems, Suddenlink Communications and Cox Communications) tended to rate highly in the Netflix streaming rankings.
And that trend continues. Netflix’s U.S. ISP speed index for September was almost a carbon copy from the previous month. The only change was Bright House Networks moving to the No. 9 slot, swapping spots with Mediacom Communications, which by the way is using “transparent” caches from Qwilt to help it manage over-the-top video streaming.
Despite Netflix’s decision to offer its Super HD library to all, expect the debate over Open Connect to continue – Netflix contends that its free Open Connect initiative provides broadband subs with optimal streaming performance; many operators, however, are wary about letting private Netflix onto their network, concerned that they are ceding some control of their network to a third party and could be compelled to offer the same privilege to YouTube, Amazon and other OTT players.
I’m told that Netflix is taking a hard line with Open Connect in its negotiations with cable operators regarding discussions involving the porting of Netflix to IP-capable set-tops, including boxes that run Comcast’s X1 platform as well as MSO-leased TiVo DVRs.
Interestingly enough, Google Fiber, a card-carrying Open Connect member, has integrated a Netflix player with its TV Box (more detail about that can be found here). It's not known what Google Fiber's distribution rights are with all its programming partners, but the integration offers another indicator that Netflix’s content contracts, with respect to offering the streaming service on MVPD-leased devices, are indeed loosing up.