Netflix Services Disrupted by Amazon Cloud Outage

Dennis Faas's picture

Streaming video service Netflix suffered an international service outage on December 24-25, 2012, that left perhaps 90 per cent of its subscribers unable to access the company's massive catalog of TV shows and films. According to Netflix, Amazon was responsible for the problem.

Netflix users intent on spending Christmas Eve in front of the boob tube were upset to find the service completely unavailable.

One subscriber told The Wall Street Journal that they "came home to relax and watch movies," but after trying to access the Netflix catalog "several times" they simply "gave up" and turned to cable television.

Most Netflix Subscribers Potentially Affected by Outage

Reports indicate the problems started at about noon Pacific time on Monday. Service disruptions continued until the following morning, Christmas Day. The outage reportedly affected Netflix subscribers in the United States, Canada, and Latin America.

Approximately 27 million of Netflix's 30 million subscribers live in these regions. (Source:

But curiously, Amazon Prime subscribers were not experiencing any of these problems on December 24th and 25th. Instead, they enjoyed full access to a competing catalog of films and TV shows during the holiday period.

Amazon Cloud Services Go Offline

Here's the problem for Netflix: it's actually an Amazon customer. Netflix uses Amazon's cloud services to deliver video content to its massive subscriber list.

Netflix spokesperson Jori Evers says the outage was traced to a technical flaw at a Virginia-based Amazon Web Services cloud computing center.

Some observers have suggested it may have been possible the outage was used to push Netflix subscribers towards Amazon Prime.

But Forbes contributor Louis Bedigian doubts this hypothesis.

"Amazon is unlikely to risk damaging its reputation by purposely ousting Netflix on Christmas," Bedigian noted. (Source:

In the meantime, Netflix says it's working hard to figure out what caused the outage. "We are investigating exactly what happened and how it could have been prevented," Evers said. (Source:

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