Netflix Forms Political Action Committee FLIXPAC

Netflix PAC FLIXPACBase image via Shutterstock.

With online video increasing in popularity and issues like the lack of net neutrality threatening to undermine online video efforts and harm consumers, video streaming king Netflix has arrived in Washington to form a political action committee called FLIXPAC, according to federal documents discovered by Politico late last week (via CNET).

The formation of the PAC makes financial sense for the company, which saw its annual lobbying costs rise from $20,000 in 2009 to over $500,000 last year.

Under PAC rules, FLIXPAC may now make direct contributions of $5,000 per federal candidate each election cycle, giving the Los Gatos, California company the ability to support candidates in favor of issues such as net neutrality as well as controversial legislation covering intellectual property protections.

Netflix notably stayed neutral during the SOPA and PIPA protests earlier this year, striking a delicate balance between its primarily SOPA-protesting user base and its media and content partners. 

However, while IP protections are obviously important to the video streaming company, net neutrality likely played a significant role in its decision to form the PAC. With ISPs attempting to double-charge online video companies for the same bandwidth that they already bill customers for, and granting special treatment to their own content at the expense of competing content, companies like Netflix feel the need to enter the political fray and counter the lobbying efforts of larger, traditional media companies.

The formation of yet another PAC may make many Americans groan, especially in the current state of political dysfunction in Washington, but if the end result is a future of net neutrality, both consumers and companies that produce or distribute content, including Apple, will be better for it.