Cablevision Systems Corp. and Suddenlink Communications have become the highest-ranking cable operators in Netflix Inc.'s January rankings for video streaming consistency, and both happen to be ISPs that are hooked into Netflix's private content delivery network (CDN).
Cablevision, with an average Netflix streaming speed of 2.24Mbit/s, rose three spots for the No. 2 spot, followed by Suddenlink, which clocked in at 2.08Mbit/s. They both trailed Google Fiber, which kept its No. 1 ranking, with with an average speed of 3.02 Mbit/s. (See Netflix Hearts Google Fiber.)
Coincidentally (or not), Cablevision made the jump soon after announcing last month it had joined Netflix's Open Connect program. Netflix is offering access to its library of higher bit-rate, 1080p "Super HD" and 3DTV content only to ISPs that are part of the program. (See Netflix Connects With Cablevision.)
A Netflix official said Google Fiber, Cablevision and Suddenlink are all on Open Connect. Time Warner Cable Inc. is among the ISPs that are weighing whether to follow suit, but has already argued that Netflix's program is a ploy to gain special treatment from ISPs and that Netflix is wrong to withhold content from customers of ISPs that aren't on board with Open Connect. (See TW Cable Slams Netflix's 'Super HD' Policy.)
But a change could be on the way. "We are in discussions with Netflix and are seeking a way to work with them," a TW Cable spokesman said Monday. Netflix says ISPs can join Open Connect for free.
In addition to getting access to Netflix's Super HD library, some ISPs are using the Netflix rankings as bragging rights and as a weapon to wield against competitors. Cablevision, which competes with Verizon Communications Inc. (not yet an Open Connect member) under the Optimum brand, issued a release with a quote from SVP of Broadband Product Management Gemma Toner declaring that "[t]he highest-quality Netflix experience from any major ISP is on Optimum. ... The most recent Netflix ISP rankings make it clear, if you live in this market and you use Netflix, the top choice is Optimum." Verizon, by the way, dropped one spot, to No. 5.
Cablevision's comment about being the highest-ranked "major" ISP also comes off like a subtle jab at Google Fiber. Netflix includes Google Fiber on its list of "major" ISPs, despite the fact that Google Fiber just started connecting its first customers in Kansas City, Kan., last November. Google Fiber has yet to reveal its subscriber totals. (See Google Fiber Starts to Hook Up Customers.)
â€” Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable