(Before I get started, a side question: Are we sure the "costs" we're talking about here, aren't negative? CDNs increase efficiency. If I were an ISP, maybe I would be happy that a hundred of my customers all accessing the same stream, only hit my upstream connections once instead of a hundred times.)
The key words in TFA are "must-have content." The premise is that many people must be Netflix customers and this is unavoidable. It's assumed, out of the gate, that Netflix can't lose. Nothing bad can possibly happen to Netflix and customers cannot say no to them.
Given that, of couse they can abuse their absolutely unassailable position. If nobody can say no to Netflix, then raising the price of ISPs is really just the tip of the iceberg; we're all going to have to name our first born childen "Netflix" too, and buy Netflix-branded cars and let Netflix VPs have special privileges with our brides. After all, we can't say no to Netflix's demands, right?
Just as a pointless exercise, though, let's imagine the unimaginable. What if customers can say no, and do? What if people see the "your ISP doesn't work with Netflix" message and decide "oh well, time to cancel Netflix." What happens then?
That aside, yes, I actually do know Netflix has muscle. I know many people who subscribe to Netflix, though I'm not one of them. Whether people can say no to Netflix or not, I admit that many won't, just like they don't say no to Microsoft and Apple. It's a world of shit out there, and I won't say it's not.
I am very interested in exactly how the Net Neutrality rules prohibit ISPs from charging customers extra for access to a particular server on their own internal network (the Netflix CDN), since AFAIK the neutrality rules only prohibit discrimination against people who access the outside. Normally it is allowed for ISPs to charge extra, for extra services. That's why I save money by not subscribing to my ISP's TV and telephone service. They're prohibited from charging me less? They're prohibited from charging other customers more, for access to the TV and VoIP servers? Are you sure about that?
I think the CDN node makes the ISPs more than a "gatekeeper" or network provider; they're file server providers. If there really is a bug in the rules that keeps them from charging the machine's users (and only that machine's users) for its costs (just like how my ISP currently charges its TV-over-IP users for their TV-over-IP servers' costs (plus an amazing shitload of markup)), then the FCC can change the rules again. Bugs are fixable.