Anyone who's suffered through a lackluster Internet connection can tell you that all Internet providers aren't created equal. The difference is really noticeable when you're doing something like streaming videos. That's why Netflix came out with its ISP Speed Index rankings. Since then, it's also tried to improve speed on the most popular ISPs by paying for direct connections to their networks. But, does paying for speed actually work?
In the long run, yes. In April, Netflix reached a deal with Verizon to get a direct connection to Verizon's FiOS network. Prior to the deal, Verizon ranked eighth out of 16 companies with an average streaming speed of 1.99 mbps in April. In September, Verizon FiOS rose to the top of the pack with an average speed of 3.17 mbps.
So, the deal was worth it, right? Now, it's starting to lo0k that way. But, the improvements Netflix paid for were a long time coming. Netflix's performance for Verizon FiOS customers actually got worse with slower streaming speeds in the months following the deal.
Verizon isn't the only company that has deal to connect Netflix right into its network. AT&T and Time Warner also have similar agreements. But, Netflix hasn't needed to make payments to every ISP to ensure great service. There are actually some companies without deals that are performing really well.