Friday, July 19, 2013

Washington Post flubs story on Netflix

House of Cards Emmy nod a breakthrough for online TV - The Washington Post: Television series produced by the video service Netflix garnered 14 Emmy nominations Thursday, a historic haul for shows that viewers watched exclusively over the Internet without needing satellite dishes, rabbit ears or cable wires.

Instead, the fans of “House of Cards” and “Arrested Development” could tune in wherever and whenever they pleased on any device with a decent Internet connection — so long as they also had a Netflix subscription. And while that may not seem revolutionary in a world with more than 1 billion smartphones, the nominations highlighted the weakening hold that traditional distribution systems have on the wallets of viewers.
The first two paragraphs of this Washington Post story are lacking so much detail that clarification is needed to fill in the holes.

Specifically, the assertion that viewing Netflix does not require "satellite dishes, rabbit ears or cable wires." The only accurate element is rabbit ears since Netflix is not an over the air television service.

As for satellite dishes, if a Netflix viewer is in large chunks of the United States where the only Internet access options are outdated dialup from the phone company or satellite Internet service providers, then a satellite dish is necessary since dialup doesn't provide sufficient bandwidth.  And the satellite providers will slow a customers service to dial up crawl speed if they stream too much Netflix by invoking bandwidth rationing limits that come with satellite Internet service contracts. 

Bandwidth rationing is also in force for mobile smartphone services since they are not intended to provide robust Internet connections on a par with premises cable service. Which brings me to another and very misleading element of the lead paragraph: that Netflix can be viewed sans "cable wires." Hardly.  Many Netflix viewers stream the service using Internet connections provided by -- you guessed it -- their cable company.

And yet another misleading story headlined A fifth of US Netflix users have cut the cord reports 20 percent of Netflix subscribers have cancelled their pay-TV subscriptions, citing research by Cowen and Co. A pay TV subscription is not a "cord" and if cable subscribers cut their cords, they won't have Internet.  No Internet = No Netflix streaming.

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