According to one Tennessee lawmaker, streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu should send emergency alerts.

Nashville’s News Channel 3 reports that State Representative John Holsclaw is currently exploring the possibility. If successful, Holsclaw would propose and potentially pass a law that requires Netflix, Hulu, and the like to broadcast emergency alerts.

Holsclaw believes such an action is necessary due to the increasing number of people cutting the cord.

“They are watching movies without commercials and those kind of stuff so we need to look at way to incorporate these streaming warnings because its imperative that we keep the people safe and informed.”

Cord-Cutters and Emergency Alerts

To his credit, Holsclaw is not the first to suggest such an action. In 2011, Techcrunch writer Greg Kumparak raised the same question. The problem, as both Holsclaw and Kumparak see it, is that traditional over-the-air TV and cable were an effective means of sending emergency alerts. However, with more individuals cutting the cord, the means of communication are decreasing.

There is still a counter-argument to Holsclaw’s proposal that is likely to emerge in the legislature: mobile device emergency alerts.

As of 2017, 95% of Americans had at least a cell phone, while 77% had a smartphone. For those ages 18-29, 100% own at least a cell phone. In comparison, Government at all levels already utilize mobile alerts alongside traditional TV alerts to relay emergency alerts.

It’s true that most Americans do consume TV, whether traditionally or streaming online. However, data shows that Americans only watch a few hours of TV a day. Meanwhile, most people have their cell phones or smartphones with them near constantly, making mobile device emergency alerts more likely to reach their target.

  • Chris

    I think that working with the device makers would be better. While I agree that cell phone notifications would be far more effective for the larger population, working with Roku, Apple TV and at the device lever rather than the provider level would be more effective.

    99% of my TV viewing is via streaming devices, Roku and Mi Box, but I’m seldom on Netflix or hulu

    • Sam Cook

      That’s a great point, Chris. I think the only problem with that (and with using SVOD services to push emergency notifications as well) would be the necessity for internet access. If your device isn’t connected, it’s not going to receive that message. This is actually why mobile texts are the most effective, since the only limitation there is having your device powered on and within even a marginal range for receiving text messages. But with the majority of streaming happening through gaming consoles, that’s where they’d likely want to start.