A New Game in Town: Disseminating Sports Content in a Net Neutrality-Less Era—The Potential Implications for the Post-Broadcasting World
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of the net neutrality rules has implications for the consumers of program content found on broadband internet service providers (ISPs). Under the former rule, such providers cannot engage in discrimination by favoring some content over others or by using their broadband to speed up favored content or slow down less favored content (practices known as “throttling”). With the demise of net neutrality, ISPs have the power to control what viewers see and how they see it, with few resources to fight such decisions. One key programming category is sports. The end of net neutrality can have an adverse impact to sports streams, because of the high amounts of broadband space and the rapid consolidation between sports content providers and ISPs. This article discusses the background of the powers of the FCC, the history of the net neutrality rules, the FCC’s 2018 order repealing the rules, and the legal and political reactions to it. It concludes by raising a number of hypothetical situations where the lack of net neutrality can have an adverse impact for consumers of sports material.