Put down the popcorn
Last week, I finally completed season two of Scandal on Netflix. As soon as I binge-watch my way through the rest of the addictive political drama, I plan to succumb to House of Cards and Sherlock before finally catching up on Portlandia, The Killing and Damages. That should be enough to tide me over until the next season of Orange Is the New Black finally premieres in June.
My inner couch potato is, obviously, relieved that Netflix just reached a deal with Comcast to ensure its TV shows and movies be streamed without interruption.
The rest of me, however, is very, very nervous.
The news comes on the heels of Comcast's plan to buy Time Warner Cable, thus making it the cable provider of choice to nearly one-third of U.S. households, and the high-speed Internet provider for nearly 40 percent of those same homes.
The Federal Communications Commission will likely examine that latter deal to determine whether it stifles competition among cable and Internet providers. The FCC should also put a careful eye to the Comcast-Netflix agreement, because it may mean a possible violation of the Net-neutrality principles that stipulate that the government, ISPs and businesses not impose access restrictions on consumers.
The Comcast-Netflix deal is, theoretically, about better service, not restrictions. Ultimately, however, we'd be foolish not see the possibility for a future, disturbing standard: Someone has to pay for instant, glitch-free access to Crazy Eyes, Red and Miss Claudette. Netflix may be ponying up now, but put down the popcorn and open your eyes. Fewer competitors means that the bill, as well a continued stranglehold on choice and availability, will soon come due for the rest of us.