The FCC's proposed plan to create pay-to-play internet fast lanes is offending Americans, and now that includes America's Pastime: Major League Baseball's digital media group lobbed a statement to the FCC last week criticizing the proposal.
Uncovered by Re/Code among the flood of comments that overwhelmed the FCC's aging website, MLB Advance Media's beef with the proposed cash-for-fast-lanes is that it'll end up costing consumers:
Fast lanes would serve only one purpose: for Broadband ISPs to receive an economic windfall. American consumers would be worse off as the costs of fast lanes are passed along to them in new fees or charges where there were none, or higher fees or charges where they existed.
Why is the sport's streaming arm, the one that's happy to charge you $120 for a season's worth of out-of-market online baseball coverage, sweating the idea of faster streaming for 24-karat customers? As Re/Code points out, MLB's digital media branch is one of the largest streaming video providers in the U.S., providing live streaming coverage for WWE and ESPN on top of its own baseball content. MLB.com spokesman Matthew Gould estimates the company will stream 400,000 hours of live programming this year.
So the MLB's media arm has a horse in this race, and it's concerned that the FCC wouldn't be able to control the fast lanes it proposes to allow. From the MLB's comment letter:
The Commission would be rolling the dice by allowing "commercially reasonable" fast lane deals, subject to amorphous regulations and limited oversight capability. We are equally as concerned about how fast/slow lane regulations could be adequately enforced. Broadband ISP misuse of fast/slow lanes could cause immediate and irreparable harm to consumers as well as Edge Providers. As the nation's largest Edge Provider of live event video, we fail to see how the proposed regulatory scheme could provide the type of timely enforcement that would be needed to adequately protect against such harms.
That's a reasonable concern for a commercial streaming provider with more than 3 million subscribers, and that pragmatism takes nothing away from MLB's concern—so far, it seems to be the only sports organization taking a stand on internet fast lanes, and one of only a few media providers coming out against the proposal.