Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why can't I get ESPN3 on Wicked Broadband's Network?

From time to time I get this question.  Why can't I get ESPN3 or WatchESPN on Wicked Broadband's network?

To get access to selected ESPN websites for our customers Wicked Broadband would have to pay ESPN for every single subscriber on our network whether they use ESPN3 or not.  That means that every single customer's bill would go up to help pay ESPN for a few customers to use the ESPN website.

This type of thing happened in the Cable TV industry in the 1980's and 1990's.  It is how your cable bill got so huge and your cable package got so bloated with channels that you don't watch.  ESPN and other content providers forced cable providers to pay for their content whether the customer wanted to watch it or not.

Imagine what would happen if Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube insisted that your Internet service provider (ISP) pay them directly?  Your Internet bill would get ENORMOUS as every popular website on the Internet demanded a payment from the ISP for every single subscriber whether that subscriber wants to use their website or not.

You, the customer, would be left trying to choose between different ISPs based on which websites the ISP chooses to pay.  So one ISP might allow you to use Google and MySpace.  A competing ISP might only allow you to use Bing and Facebook.  An ISP's success would hinge on what kind of deals they could negotiate with content providers.   This would give huge advantages to large ISPs like WOW!, Time Warner and Comcast at the expense of small ISPs like Wicked Broadband.

In my mind, ESPN's actions should be illegal.  Unfortunately the FCC is being lead by the former top lobbyist for the Cable TV industry.  I'm not holding my breath for intervention by FCC any time soon.

Bottom line, we refuse to contribute to an Internet that "works" like Cable TV.  We don't think that ISPs should be in the business of choosing which websites work and which ones don't.  If ESPN wants your business then they will allow you, the customer, to purchase their content directly.  If they don't want to sell you their content that is their problem.

There are customers who feel that their ISP should be allowed to choose which websites work.  There are customers who will tolerate their ISP monitoring, intercepting and manipulating their web traffic (I'm talking about AT&T).  There are customers who want to do business with companies that are against an open Internet.  Those customers should find another ISP, Wicked Broadband isn't going to engage in these types of business practices.

Customers who want to learn more about why your cable bill is so high, why Internet speeds in the US have lagged behind the rest of the world and why you can't get the TV channels you want a la carte should read this book:  Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age