Squid Game: Netflix sued by broadband provider after hit series causes ‘traffic surge’

SK Broadband estimates Netflix’s network usage fee as £16.9m for 2020 alone

Annabel Nugent
Monday 04 October 2021 14:36
Trailer for Netflix thriller Squid Game

Netflix has been sued by an internet provider in South Korea over an alleged surge of traffic caused by the popularity of Squid Game.

The Korean-language series – which stars Lee Jung-jae and Park Hae-Soo – has become a worldwide hit since its release on 17 September.

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has said that Squid Game is “on the way” to becoming the streamer’s “biggest show” ever.

According to Reuters, internet provider SK Broadband is suing Netflix to pay for costs from increased network traffic and maintenance work due to an apparent surge of viewers on the platform.

The lawsuit comes after a Seoul court stated that Netflix should “reasonably” pay something in return to SK Broadband for network usage.

Per the report, Netflix has said that it will review the claim and seek dialogue with the company.

In a statement to Reuters, SK said that the popularity of Squid Game has highlighted the streaming giant’s status as South Korea’s second-largest data traffic generator after YouTube, which is owned by Google.

SK added that Netflix and Google are not paying network usage fees, unlike other content providers such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook.

Deadly ‘Red Light Green Light’ game in Squid Game

According to the company, Netflix’s data traffic handled by SK increased 24-fold from May 2018 to September 2021, rising to 1.2 trillion bits of data processed per second.

Last year, Netflix brought its own lawsuit to determine whether it had any obligation to pay SK for network usage. The streaming giant argued that its duty ends with creating content and leaving it accessible.

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The Seoul Central District Court ruled against Netflix this year, stating that SK is seen as supplying “a service provided at a cost” and it is “reasonable” for Netflix to be “obligated to provide something in return”.

SK estimated the network usage fee required of Netflix was approximately 27.2 billion won (£16.9m) for 2020 alone.

Reuters reports that Netflix has appealed the ruling. Fresh proceedings are scheduled to begin in late December.

In a statement given last week, the streamer said that it contributed to the creation of 16,000 jobs in South Korea, as well as 770 billion won (£480m) in investments.

In the US, Netflix has been paying a fee to broadband provider Comcast Corp for seven years to provide faster streaming speeds.

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