Roku Users Choke Netflix Service

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Netflix’s Internet streaming-on-demand service apparently has been overwhelmed by Roku’s set-top box.

On Tuesday (June 8), Netflix sent an e-mail to an unspecified number of subscribers with the subject line, “We’re sorry you may have had trouble watching instantly via your Roku Streaming Player” (see below).

According to the e-mail a Netflix sub forwarded to me, the problem was egregious enough that Netflix offered 5% off the next month’s bill to affected customers. Roku had around 500,000 customers at the end of 2009.

Netflix vice president of corporate communications Steve Swasey confirmed, “There were sporadic mishaps and we’ve reached out to those who were affected.” He declined to comment further.

Roku spokesman Brian Jaquet said in an e-mail that the broadband set-top maker has seen “unprecedented usage of the Netflix channel” and subsequently has had “some performance issues.”

According to Jaquet, the new Netflix channel on Roku is now providing a lot more data — such as a subscriber’s queue, categories, and recently watched titles — “so it’s pulling more data from Netflix servers.”

“At peak usage (weekends) this can have a choking effect so we’ve had some sluggish performance, and Netflix proactively reached out to customers w/ this email,” Jaquet wrote.

Roku is working with Netflix to ensure the best performance and reliability, Jaquet added.

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