The feature will be offered in May and will allow those with low data caps to watch Netflix using a lower quality stream that will allow them to save their precious data. Those receiving a large amount of data each month will be able to watch movies and television shows with a higher quality feed. And those who won't watch streaming video unless they have a Wi-Fi connection will also be able to choose a high-quality stream.
Anne Marie Squeo, a member of the Netflix executive team said, "It's about striking a balance that ensures a good streaming experience while avoiding unplanned fines from mobile providers." Squeo said that Netflix had set the default bitrate at 600 Kbps.
The bottom line will be that Netflix, which had been unilaterally reducing the quality of its feeds to Verizon and AT&T customers without their knowledge, will be putting control back into the hands of its own subscribers. Ironically, this is what T-Mobile has been doing with Binge On. Compatible T-Mobile subscribers who want to watch Netflix without using their own data, can agree to watch the video stream at DVD resolution (480p). If they want a higher quality feed, Binge On users can disable the feature with the understanding that the data used for a high-quality stream will be taken out of the customer's data bucket.
Speaking of T-Mobile, outspoken CEO John Legere criticized Verizon and AT&T for not alerting their customers that Netflix was streaming video to them at a low-quality rate. Netflix had self-throttled the data thinking that it was doing a favor to AT&T and Verizon customers. Now there is a possibility that by not disclosing the throttling, Netflix, AT&T and Verizon could face class-action lawsuits from customers who paid for what they thought was high quality streaming video.