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Disney Plus and Verizon Conduct 'Open Caching' Trial, Downplay Paid Prioritization Fears

Disney Plus on the Verizon network
(Image credit: Verizon)

The Walt Disney Company has conducted a trial over the last several months with Verizon whereby select, in-demand Disney Plus content can be more efficiently streamed on the wireless giant’s Fios wireline network.

Specifically, Disney Plus has trialed Verizon’s Open Caching platform, a technology based on open specifications developed by the Streaming Video Alliance. A joint news release says Open Caching “stores the most requested streaming video content, like Falcon and the Winter Soldier, in network facilities closer to the customer, which results in content starting faster, while also reducing freezing, pausing or playback failure during streaming.”

Said Joe Inzerillo, executive VP  and CTO of Disney Streaming, in a statement: “The ability for us to scale Disney Plus internet distribution and create optimal streaming experiences for subscribers around the content is paramount to our continued success as the flagship streaming service from The Walt Disney Company.

“As we experience increased demand for Disney Plus content, we are encouraged with the success of the Open Cache standards and the growing install base of that platform across global networks like Verizon,” Inzerillo added. "These deployments have given us scale while providing valuable distribution diversity enabling us to engage millions of more subscribers with the highest quality streaming.”

Internet consumer advocacy groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation have long opposed so-called "paid prioritization" schemes whereby large streaming service operators like Disney, Netflix and Amazon are able to negotiate favorable network access terms with ISPs, giving them an advantage over smaller service providers which may not have the same resources. 

Reps for both Disney and Verizon, however, insists the trial can't be construed as "paid prioritization," first and foremost because nobody is getting paid ... yet. 

"Once commercialized, our Open Caching platform, providing greater efficacy and efficiency in managing network resources, will be open to any and all content providers that are interested in leveraging it to provide a better viewing experience for their customers," a Verizon rep told us. 

Will all streaming service providers have to pay for access to Open Caching? And if so, will all of them be able to afford it?

"It's a little too early in the process to answer that," the rep added. "The trial phase is really all about figuring out the technology and how to optimize it. Once we move towards commercialization the teams will work to address those other aspects."

Verizon already serves as a key distribution partner for Disney Plus, delivering to customers of 5G unlimited wireless plans the bundle of Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus at no additional charge. Subscribers of Verizon unlimited 4G LTE plans get Disney Plus free for six months. 

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!