Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has issued some conditional praise to the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner Inc., so long as AT&T's future data policies don’t give rivals such as TW-owned HBO a leg up on his OTT SVOD service.
“[A]s long as HBO’s bits and Netflix’s bits are treated the same, that would be the starting place,” Hastings said Monday night at The Wall Street Journal DLive conference, according to Fortune. “We really want to make sure that to the consumer, to the system, that basically it doesn’t give an unfair advantage to HBO over Netflix. If it’s open competition, we love that.”
Those concerns seem to be tied to wariness that AT&T might try to zero-rate content from the TW content stable.
Notably, Netflix was okay with the Charter-Time Warner Cable deal when Charter pledged to extend its settlement-free peering policy to the acquired systems. Per FCC's OTT-friendly order on that deal, Charter is also prohibited from imposing data caps or charging usage-based pricing for its residential broadband service.
Hastings also admired AT&T’s plans for DirecTV Now, the OTT-TV service slated to launch sometime next month.
“I think AT&T is going to be very aggressive about building a national competitor to all of the cable companies,” Hastings said. “If they pull that off, that would be in the consumer’s interest.”