Netflix, in tandem with the release of its ISP Speed Index results for May, announced Monday that it will halt the test of on-screen messages that pin the blame for degraded streams on ISPs by name, a pilot program that quickly resulted in a cease-and-desist letter from Verizon Communications.
“As part of this transparency campaign, we started a small scale test in early May that lets consumers know, while they’re watching Netflix, that their experience is degraded due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network,” Netflix spokesman Joris Evers wrote in this blog post. “We are testing this across the U.S. wherever there is significant and persistent network congestion. This test is scheduled to end on June 16. We will evaluate rolling it out more broadly.”
Verizon’s letter came after Yuri Victor of Vox Media tweeted a screenshot of a Netflix browser message that read: “The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback…” Verizon initially called it a “PR stunt” before issuing the cease and desist letter, which claimed that “Netflix’s false accusations have the potential to harm the Verizon brand in the marketplace…The impression that Netflix is falsely giving our customers is that the Verizon network is generally 'crowded' and troublesome.” In the letter, Verizon also pointed the finger at Netflix, accusing the streaming giant of electing to send its traffic over congested routes.