After a small but vocal group of people complained about the quality of Netflix’s streaming service, the company has responded to the issue on the company's corporate blog. In the post, Neil Hunt, chief product officer at Netflix, identified three points in the system that could affect a user’s experience: CDNs, the variety of content and devices, and in-home congestion.
As Hunt points out in the blog post, Netflix’s content is scattered across different CDN servers throughout the U.S. As a result, heavy congestion in different regions as well as the ways in which the traffic is routed to ISPs could adversely affect the streaming quality for some users while not impacting others. In addition, Hunt notes routing to different ISPs in the same region may be quite different. As a result, performance may also vary significantly even for neighbors if they are connected to different ISPs.
In addition, there are differences in the way content is served and played back. As Hunt writes, “different titles, and different encodes for different playback device types, may come from different CDNs or different servers at a particular CDN, so may have different paths and different bottlenecks.” Therefore, customers may see better performance on an Xbox rather than their PC, or vice-versa. Additionally, some titles may stream unaffected, while others may suffer congestion. Overall, Hunt assures readers, “There is no purposeful discrimination between different clients – we want them all to perform very well.” Finally, Netflix reminds users that downloading large files, using Skype for calls while streaming, and other activity within the home can cause potential bottlenecks.
The blog post barely addresses Microsoft Silverlight, which
seems to be the biggest issue of complaint among unsatisfied users. However,
Netflix does state that it is working on a new version of the player that uses
multi-sourcing to alleviate regional hiccups. Netflix hopes to have the problem largely solved
by the end of the year.