It seems Netflix has given up on the controversial and contentious fight to maintain net neutrality.
Speaking with Peter Kafka of Recode during the Code Conference, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, said the battle for net neutrality can't be won in a Trump presidency.
Hastings went on to explain his current position on net neutrality, addressing why he's been largely quiet about it now compared to how vocally he defended net neutrality in the past.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Changes Tune On Net Neutrality Fight
Hastings said that Netflix can survive amid the potential impact of net neutrality.
"It's not narrowly important to us because we're big enough to get the deals we want," he said — a bold confession. Regardless of how the U.S. Federal Communications Commission decides to do with Title II, the video streaming company isn't worried about what's going to happen to its core service. Still, Hastings says Netflix is "weighing in against" altering the rules but that "it's not our primary battle at this point" and "we don't have a special vulnerability to it."
Though he's not worried about his own company, Hastings believes that smaller players will be directly affected if net neutrality corrodes. In his view, net neutrality would have been important to "the Netflix of 10 years ago," perhaps because it was still a small company back then, like the companies today that will suffer should net neutrality crumble.
Why Net Neutrality Matters
Why is net neutrality important? Well, it's a crucial element that can keep the behavior of internet service providers just and fair for content providers. It makes sure ISPs enable access to content regardless of the source, without blocking certain websites or services. That alone is one of the most terrifying aspects — the idea that ISPs can grant priority access to companies that can afford it, leaving the smaller, independent content providers unable to compete.
Despite mounting efforts to combat the FCC's paralysis of net neutrality, Hastings maintains his pessimism on its fate because of the current administration.
"Trump's FCC is going to unwind the rules no matter what happens," argues Hastings. Yes, he believes net neutrality is "important for society," but because his company can survive through it, Netflix won't bother heading into the fight.
"We had to carry the water when we were growing up and we were small," said Hastings. "Other companies have to be on that leading edge."
Though the perils of killing net neutrality will negatively affect consumers, Hastings said back in March that "the culture around net neutrality is very strong." He added that consumer expectation is also very strong. Thus, even if net neutrality begins to weaken, there'd be no big risk "because consumers know they're entitled to getting all of the web services."
What the FCC plans to do with net neutrality and internet regulations still remains to be hammered out, but with Netflix's stance on the issue, it's possible other companies will think the same — that they can survive, so there'd be no need to fight — if they're not thinking about it already, anyway.