ESPN gives the middle finger to Net Neutrality

February 6, 2009 // 11:38 a.m.

Tags: #disney #espn #isp #net #neutrality #sports

In a quite frankly disgusting move against sports fans, the ESPN has effectively given the middle finger to net neutrality, forcing its customers to switch to an affiliate ISP in order to view its online video service, reports Wired.

ESPN currently shows 3,500 sporting events a year through its online service, but if you've signed up to the wrong ISP you'll just get a red box roll over telling you your Internets are wrong.

This is a turn around from the original net neutrality problem which saw ISPs trying to charge websites for bandwidth its subscribers had already paid for. Instead, now ESPN is demanding ISPs pony up for licenses to allow their users to view its content. Some might argue that it's no different from paying for a cable package - if you want the premium content, then you have to pay for it.

However it's not stopped other sites for many years just creating a paid-for section: buy a login and get premium content. Instead ESPN is circumventing this and making everyone using affiliated ISPs, regardless of whether they want to view its content or not.

ESPN is owned by Disney, so expect this cancerous trend to proliferate to other services - in fact, music might also follow the same trend as well.

Some might also argue that the BBC's geo-targetting of its iPlayer service is very closely linked to this kind of trend, especially as it effectively means those who don't own a TV, get content for free anyway (we pay for a TV license in the UK), and viewers outside of our small island have no chance whatsoever of viewing it either.

So, great, we're going to end up with everything we've fought to avoid - a patchy Internet ruled by affiliate programs and licenses. Inevitably it will only make piracy even more widespread as customers frustrated by greedy companies who don't make it easy to consume premium content, will inevitably just look elsewhere. How many of us care enough to change our ISPs? It's not exactly an easy or efficient process after all. We've hit the slippery slope, and there's grease already under our feet.

What do you think the solution is? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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