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Why Netflix Is Shifting From Akamai

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As I am getting more calls and e-mails than I can possibly return on my earlier blog post about Akamai (AKAM) and Netflix (NFLX) -- and because both companies are now willing to go on-record just a little -- I've decided to give out more details on my post.

Folks may still have questions after reading this post, which I'm happy to answer -- if I can. All the e-mails and comments I receive from crazy shareholders threatening me with bodily harm will be ignored.

Also, it should be noted that far too many Websites that picked up on my first post took a lot of what I have said out of context or have implied things I never said. At no time did I say Netflix is "no longer a customer of Akamai." Nor did I imply that "Netflix won't have any relationship with Akamai in the New Year." I chose my words very carefully and third-party sites need to use those exact words -- not take what I said and imply something else from them.

Netflix is shifting its current video traffic from Akamai to Limelight (LLNW) and Level 3 (LVLT). Akamai has not denied it and neither has Netflix.

For the record, Akamai did say that "it's no secret that Netflix has a multiple vendor strategy for its video service. It's for Netflix to decide how much traffic should be carried by each vendor based on their business needs. Our focus is always to work with our customers to ensure the best possible results for their business."

There is also a strong and likely possibility that Akamai still gets some Netflix video delivery business for traffic not allocated to current contracts, new traffic from Netflix's expected international expansion and other video related offerings. Netlfix is constantly in contract discussions with many of their vendors throughout the year.

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Akamai provides more than just streaming. It can lose a portion of Netflix's traffic -- like video -- while still retaining other portions of the business.

The real debate seems to be why Netflix is shifting its video traffic to Limelight and Level 3 and whether or not poor performance is to blame. Normally, I would not say how I got my info for my original post, but in this case I think it is important.

Technical folks inside Netflix have been telling me that in head-to-head tests between Akamai, Limelight and Level 3, Akamai has not always performed well. It's not always been the worst, but it's not always been the best. The folks have also told me that they have seen performance issues on Akamai's network, specific to video.
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