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Left-wing senator wants Netflix, Disney, and other online streamers to give away their products for free so Americans will stay home
Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Left-wing senator wants Netflix, Disney, and other online streamers to give away their products for free so Americans will stay home

Quite an ask

Democrats really, really, really want people to stay home for the COVID holidays.

They have repeatedly used "sticks" to attempt to get Americans to not leave their residences — including instituting curfews, shutting down restaurants, closing churches, and even threatening more stay-at-home lockdown orders.

Now, left-wing Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) is looking for "carrots" — and he's trying to convince online entertainment streamers to help out.

In a letter Monday to the heads of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Apple Plus, Hulu, and HBO Max, King laid out the case for these companies to give away their product for free — for the greater good:

As organizations around the country continue to respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, I am reaching out to discuss and consider the unique role that your companies play in providing content-based activities this holiday season. Specifically, I encourage you to temporarily remove any cost considerations for use of your services for current non-subscribers as a public service to who are seeking to remain safe and indoors this holiday season, as opposed to the risks involved as the nation sees a dramatic surge in pandemic cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance recommending that specific community actions be taken to limit the exposure of the virus, and has additionally encouraged Americans to avoid their usual holiday travel to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. We believe that your companies are in a unique position to help families cope with the effects of this health emergency on typical holiday traditions.

If that wasn't enough, King went on to inform them that such a move would be great "opportunity" for these companies to do the "socially responsible" thing.

Yes, as the temperatures outside continue to drop, "safe outdoor recreation options are further restricted," the senator said — while failing to note that many of the restrictions the people are under were imposed by Democratic officials.

Because of the restrictions, "Americans are faced with even further social isolation and increased free time during the holidays," King noted. "This is a risk; it could also be an opportunity for creative, socially responsible thinking."

Without the help of Netflix, Disney, and other outlets, "Americans are likely to choose to ignore public health advice," the senator continued, adding that these irresponsible citizens will likely "carry on their typical holiday traditions instead of remaining safely at home."

He told them he super wants them to write back with "what steps you see feasible and able to be accomplished to limit the health emergency" and would "encourage" them to do whatever they can to help.

'King's Gambit'

In an editorial titled "Angus King's Gambit" posted Wednesday evening, the Wall Street Journal noted a couple of seemingly obvious points.

First, Netflix and other online streamers have seen record numbers of subscriptions during the pandemic because so many Americans are staying home — yet the virus continues to spike:

Who knew Netflix could slow Covid? The pandemic has been a boon for online streaming services, which have added tens of millions of new users during the pandemic. Disney+ now boasts 74 million, up from 50 million in April. There's no evidence, however, the streaming surge has stopped the virus from spreading.

Second, the Journal noted, "free" Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime is not a thing:

In any case, many young people already free-ride on subscriptions of family and friends. Increased streaming of “The Queen's Gambit" or “Seinfeld" reruns would increase broadband traffic and slow speeds for other uses including telemedicine visits and FaceTiming with grandparents. There's no such thing as free Netflix.

The paper further warned that "Democrats want the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers so they could be forced to provide free 'public services,' which is how Mr. King labels entertainment."

No reports yet on whether the entertainment outlets have offered a response.

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