ESPN Wants to Subsidize Your Data Plan Because Carriers Are Awful

Illustration for article titled ESPN Wants to Subsidize Your Data Plan Because Carriers Are Awful

Because data caps are the terrible reality to owning a smartphone, even giant companies want to help us poor saps who've signed our life away to carriers one 2-year contract at a time. ESPN is trying to make a deal with carriers to subsidize our data plans. Seriously.

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According to the WSJ, ESPN has had discussions with 'at least' one major US carrier to help with our data load. In one scenario, the Worldwide Leader of Sportin' would actually pay carriers money so "that people viewing ESPN mobile content wouldn't have that usage counted toward their monthly data caps." I knew cheering for grown men in different colored laundry all my life would eventually pay off for me!

However, the WSJ stresses that no deal is imminent and that ESPN isn't even sure that the numbers would make sense but it just goes to show how horrible carriers all are. Their bloodthirsty desire to slap caps and fees on everything is making content providers like ESPN concerned about the shitty experience of the carrier's customers (a less noble but more realistic motivations: companies like ESPN want to generate more mobile ad revenue and with customers who reach their monthly data caps too often, they won't be able to grab those high usage eyeballs). [WSJ]

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DISCUSSION

This is actually a really disturbing breech of Net Neutrality. This effectively means (if it goes through) that ESPN's competitors video streams are now more expensive, creating an unfair advantage in the market. This is bad news all around, and I can only see it getting worse: what if you had to pay extra to view unsubsidized content at all? (This is the extreme interpretation.) What if there was a Facebook charge, because Facebook hadn't signed one of these exclusive deals with your carrier?

I'm against this 100%. I don't care how expensive it is, data is data. I want to pay the same amount for the service regardless of *whose* data it is I'm downloading.