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Disney Strikes Against Net Neutrality 442

1 a bee writes "Ars Technica is running a story by Matthew Lasar about how Disney's ESPN360.com is charging ISPs for 'bulk' access to their content. According to the article, if you visit ESPN using a 'non-subscribing' ISP, you're greeted with a message explaining why access is restricted for you. This raises a number of issues: '... it's one thing to charge users an access fee, another to charge the ISP, potentially passing the cost on to all the ISPs subscribers whether they're interested in the content or not.' Ironically, the issue came to the fore in a complaint from the American Cable Association (ACA) to the FCC. A quoted ACA press release warns, 'Media giants are in the early stages of becoming Internet gatekeepers by requiring broadband providers to pay for their Web-based content and services and include them as part of basic Internet access for all subscribers. These content providers are also preventing subscribers who are interested in the content from independently accessing it on broadband networks of providers that have refused to pay.' So, is this a real threat to net neutrality (and the end-to-end principle) or just another bad business model that doesn't stand a chance?"
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Disney Strikes Against Net Neutrality

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  • by Shag ( 3737 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:32PM (#28312679)

    They're experts on charging everyone for content, whether they want it or not.

    (Whatever happened to all those proposals for 'ala carte' cable?)

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:35PM (#28312739) Journal

      Who cares. Disney is to culture what thyroid cancer is to metabolism. I wouldn't waste a 2400bps connection on their drivel.

      • by foo1752 ( 555890 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:43PM (#28312887) Homepage

        I don't understand your medical analogy. Please restate in the form of a car analogy. Thanks!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Disney is to culture what a faulty catalytic converter is to air quality

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Ok. Disney is to culture as sugar is to your gas tank. TADA!

      • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:53PM (#28313055)

        OLD disney films were special.

        otoh, to see the dark side of disney, check out the BANNED 'uncle remus' tales (aka 'song of the south').

        due to PC pressure, disney self-banned that film. I got a copy on the bay. I grew up with that movie, as a youth, in the 70's. taken in historical context, there's nothing wrong with it. yet disney outright bans it and only released it to some countries.

        they also manipulate their 'vault' for fake money reasons, not at all based on real supply/demand, but they try to artificially create scarecity.

        the old films are worth stealing (yes, I said that). the new ones are worth nothing at all.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by nine-times ( 778537 )

          the new ones are worth nothing at all.

          I don't agree with that. Not if you include Pixar's stuff.

        • by Fished ( 574624 ) <amphigory@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:35PM (#28313739)

          I recently got my kids some Loony Tunes, which had the episode where Elmer Fudd (as a Mounty) catches Bugs and has him in front of a firing squad. For his "wast wequest", Bugs breaks out into "I wish I were in Dixie", with the whole firing squad transforming into "black-face" minstrel singers, a la the old black minstrel shows.

          Well, whoever compiled this DVD chose to blur the faces out, presumably for reasons of political correctness.

          Now, I have a big problem with this, because it robbed me of a great 'teachable moment' for my kids... a chance to talk about the fact that just fifty years ago that sort of thing was perfectly acceptable and accepted, and why it was wrong. This happens all over the place... all the remnants of a horrible era in American history (slavery and Jim Crow) being gradually swept under the rug. How can we help forgetting when the purveyors of common culture are working so very, very hard to make sure that we forget!?! I mean... my father went to Little Rock Central High School, and graduated a year before they sent the National Guard in, but nowadays we act as if all that stuff is something from the distant past. It's not--and it could come back if we don't watch it like a hawk.

          I'm fighting back though... my oldest (11) just finished reading (at my insistence) Uncle Tom's Cabin, and I plan to have him read the Autobiography of Frederick Douglas and watch Schindler's List as well this summer. (He's quite precocious. Most 11 year olds probably wouldn't be ready for this.) Later, we'll read together the works of Martin Luther King and similar writings. I've laid out an education program for my kids in my mind, to make sure that they at least know what a horrible thing racism (and it's cousins, racist nationalism, fascism, and National Socialism) is.

          If only the schools would do the same, instead of white-washing everything and reducing the desperate fight of oppressed peoples against brutal oppression to a few names and dates, boring and bloodless.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Well, whoever compiled this DVD chose to blur the faces out, presumably for reasons of political correctness.

            Had they left it in, as is, then there would have been 100 folks offended for every one of the folks that would be offended by the blurred faces.

            Welcome to human nature. You can't please everyone.
          • by kirillian ( 1437647 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @05:55PM (#28314725)
            I'm white and I grew up in the South - Texas to be specific. There seem to be quite a few more black people living there than in the places I've lived up North. No one ever told me that I needed to be careful not to be racist, but I really can't see myself as being racist. My black friends just have a different cultural upbringing than I do. That's perfectly ok with us. We just make fun of each other and have a good time.

            My grandmother is racist and my father is a little racist (he's pretty good for the most part, but he still has a tendency to point a racial finger at people when something bad happens). My mother could care less if you were purple spotted and were made of jelly. She'd love you anyway. I think that was more influential than anything else. However, I really didn't meet many people that I actually thought were racist down there. Some people were a little skittish, but, for the most part, there wasn't a problem with anyone.

            The first time I encountered a whole group of people who collectively were rather racist was when I moved up North. Outwardly, everyone was extremely politically correct, said the right things and were extremely "outraged" that I called people 'black' instead of African Americans (try calling anyone that in the 'hood' of town...I won't come to your funeral). In fact, there was no mixing of white people and black people at all...they were completely separated cultures and groups of people. The black people were extremely defensive and not open to making new relationships - I don't know whether they are just burned really bad or if it is just instilled in them that everyone hates them. Whatever it is. Everyone up North seems to be extremely racist toward everyone else - its kinda sad.

            I'm more of the opinion that yes, there are definitely still some racists about, but I think, for the most part, it's turned into perception more than anything. We assume that someone's out to get us, so everything becomes self-prophetic and seems to support the conclusion that we assumed. Personally, I think that's crap.

            I do disagree with the cultural "glossing-over" that has happened, but I also think its a bunch of bunk to try and hammer those lessons into the young. They are only going to learn to treat people as their equals if the people around them are doing so. Hammering into the young that they need to avoid the mistakes of the past only sharpens those lines that still exist - it doesn't magically erase them.

            Racism is just some form of elitist thinking that's tied to being identified with a race. The same thing happens, for example, when people join gangs - their gang is better than the rest. It's a coping mechanism that exists in society. It's not something you can just educate away. Sometimes you can try to help a single person one at a time, but you can't just change people. It doesn't work. I would know. I'm lucky to have escaped my neighborhood alive - I could be caught up in the gang mentality just as easily as anyone else, but I managed not to. It doesn't make me better than any of my buddies who are still doing drugs, stealing, and killing people. It just means that I escaped the spiral.

            I don't think that gangs, racism, or any other elitist thinking is something that can be "fought". being aware is good, I think. But I think that coming to the table thinking that you are going to 'do your part' and fight racism is really bringing a fight into something that's not. Racist persons are more people to feel sorry for than people to hate.

        • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:38PM (#28313773) Homepage

          I hate to use the stale "I have a black friend" interjectory, but I do have a black friend and asked her opinion of "Song of the South" and the whole Uncle Remus thing. She stated that it was a depiction and a snapshot of historical standards and expectations and should be considered as such. Disney has been around a long time and has evolved with the times. Ultimately, she says it is just fine to her because it is historical in a way and should be preserved as it was in spite of any other political correctness problems.

          She's rather intelligent and I appreciated her view on it. However, not all of "our black friends" have such a wide view on things which is rather unfortunate, but it is typical as not all people have a wide view on things. It is most unfortunate that the rather Nazi-like intolerance we call "political correctness" is even permitted at all.

          • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @05:03PM (#28314099)

            During college, I knew a lot of African immigrants (as in, people who'd come to the US from Africa, either to stay for good, or to get a degree).

            Without exception they agreed on one thing: American blacks are racist dumb shits. They couldn't understand where the "dignity" was in rap "music", hip-hop "culture", or the idea of teaching your kids that it's "acting white" to be smart. And they were constantly assailed by American blacks who bugged them about precisely those things - "acting white", not sounding black when they talked, not listening to the "right" music, not being in the "right" major to be black, etc. They were some of the smartest people I knew, and that's because they held themselves to a high standard, worked hard, and didn't think the government owed them a living like 99% of American blacks seem to.

            Political Correctness has always been bullshit. I've been to "America's Black Holocaust Museum" in Milwaukee. You know what? It's a piece of shit. Slavery was bad, but the deep South was never anywhere close to Nazi Germany, and they want to hide the truth that blacks sold blacks into slavery, and there were plenty of black slaveowners in America (over 3000 in New Orleans alone according to the 1860 census).

            The so-called "history book" you learned from as a kid was a bastardized, sanitized, rewritten version of "history" that had about as much relation to the truth as a made-for-TV "based on a true story" movie.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by maxume ( 22995 )

              You do realize that people motivated enough to go to a whole nother continent to go to college are going to be a self-selecting group, right?

              There is a mountain of irony in your speaking of American blacks as a single monolithic group.

            • by LandruBek ( 792512 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @10:19PM (#28316729)

              Without exception [the African immigrants I knew] agreed on one thing: American blacks are racist dumb shits.

              Wow, your foreign friends must be amazingly skilled sociologists, in order to draw such concise conclusions on such a large population. They must have studied the social patterns of the United States for many years, in order to make any such claim. Because most people would not dare to try to summarize the nature of a population of 36 million individuals in a three-word phrase. Why your sociologist foreign friends must be absolute fucking geniuses! Either that, or maybe they don't really know what they're talking about (that is if your friends really did say what you claim they did).

              May I offer my summary instead: that some black folks are racist and some are not; some are dumb and some are not. But now it's not such a pungent little assessment, and applies to all sorts of groups.

              Oh, I forgot, your friends are from Africa, so that gives them the right to make blanket generalizations about American blacks!

              They couldn't understand where the "dignity" was in rap "music," hip-hop "culture"

              . . . and therefore it must not exist!

              [They] didn't think the government owed them a living like 99% of American blacks seem to.

              You need to meet more black folks, bro.

          • racism? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by falconwolf ( 725481 )

            I hate to use the stale "I have a black friend" interjectory, but I do have a black friend and asked her opinion of "Song of the South" and the whole Uncle Remus thing. She stated that it was a depiction and a snapshot of historical standards and expectations and should be considered as such.

            Something like this happened in the "Black Like Monica [touched.com]" episode of "Touched By An Angel". In it a small city is preparing a celebration for someone who was part of the Underground Railroad [wikipedia.org] with Rosa Parks as a guest.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by HiThere ( 15173 )

              Well, at one time negro was an adjective meaning black. Not meaning a racial group. I think Latin may have been the dominant tongue then...and they spelled it either niger or nigra depending on the gender of what they modified. (It also varied with the case...I gave the nominative.) But pronunciation was a lot sloppier than spelling. And when the adjective became nominalized (negrus: The Black one) it was pronounced negro. (This, naturally, varies with the century and the country.) (Also note the ch

      • I wouldn't waste a 2400bps connection on their drivel.

        Here's three screaming kids. Your move.

      • by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:25PM (#28313575)

        Who cares. Disney is to culture what thyroid cancer is to metabolism. I wouldn't waste a 2400bps connection on their drivel.

        If that's how you feel about Disney, then you absolutely should care, because if your ISP is a subscriber that means you are paying for content that you can't stand and will probably never watch. If you decide not to use any ISP that subscribes, you are being subjected to a reduction in choice in your ISP selection because of this. If a sufficiently popular site decides to go this route (and ESPN is popular whether you watch it or not), then you may be left with no choice in your area other than pay for this stuff or go without Internet access. This should matter to everybody.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          True enough, though I'm in Canada, so I doubt it's much of an issue for me, seeing as most American networks have decided I, being foolish enough to live north of the 49th, can't watch any of their programming (we won't mention bittorrent here).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JJRRutgers ( 595466 )
      A la carte cable would be the death of 75% of cable channels out there.
      • You mean Lifetime, HSN, basically the ones nobody watches anyway?? I say good riddance. Makes flipping channels less wasteful.
        • Apparently you don't know any old ladies or bored housewives. Those two channels are on 75% of the time in the homes of the two above categories of all the people I know that fit in them

        • by nomadic ( 141991 )
          You mean Lifetime, HSN, basically the ones nobody watches anyway??

          No, they mean the Science Channel and Discovery.
        • by The End Of Days ( 1243248 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:49PM (#28312995)

          There's a big difference between "the ones I don't watch anyway" and "the ones nobody watches anyway."

          As a Slashdotter you should very careful trying to apply your tastes to the population at large, because it's extremely likely you're nowhere near the norm in that regard.

          • And hows is that true for all slashdot reader? Slashdot could be the nerdiest thing I do. How would you know. (going back to espn)
        • by AndersOSU ( 873247 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:45PM (#28313869)

          Think again.

          Lifetime gets better ratings than the Discovery channel and SciFi.

          TruTV gets better ratings than CNN, the History channel or Comedy Central.

          Soap, Oxygen, and the golf channel all get better ratings than G4, the military channel, biography, or BBC America.

          source [tvbythenumbers.com]

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by metamatic ( 202216 )

            However, a Lifetime viewer is probably not as desirable a consumer as a SciFi viewer, for certain classes of product. So it's not clear that pure eyeball statistics represent how marketable the channels would be in an a la carte world.

            They discovered this in the UK when Channel 4 was set up. It was supposed to be a niche channel with arts programs and strange comedies, and the legislation was set up so that it would be funded by the mainstream ITV (game shows and sitcoms). After a couple of years, Channel 4

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TypoNAM ( 695420 )

        A la carte cable would be the death of 75% of cable channels out there.

        Yet nothing of value would be lost.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        If there isn't a market, then there isn't a market.
        Of course in most rational places in the world it's a flat fee and no tiers to screw around with, so I would be happy with that as well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by langelgjm ( 860756 )

        A la carte cable would be the death of 75% of cable channels out there.

        Says who? The cable companies say that, and certain channels. But I don't think anyone knows for sure.

        The fact is that cable companies already pay more for certain channels anyway. Sports programming is ridiculously expensive. "A la carte" doesn't mean you'll get each channel for $0.75 either... it's all going to depend on how many people are interested in watching stuff. If there's enough interest in something, people will be willing to shell out even $5 a month for a channel now that they're not paying $1

      • by WCMI92 ( 592436 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:56PM (#28313101) Homepage

        A la carte cable would be the death of 75% of cable channels out there.

        Yep, especially the more niche ones. Which is why it's actually the cable channel broadcasters who oppose it. A lot of those channels get on there because in order to get a desirable channel (such as ESPN) a cable company is forced to take other channels they might not want and add them to their basic tier. Indeed, most all of them try to force their way onto the basic tier, while wanting to charge premium rates. In the cable companies defense, this is the biggest pressure there is causing basic cable rates to rise.

        There was a recent battle between Comcast (I think it was them) and the NFL network... The NFL and other leagues now think that even being shown on sports networks like ESPN isn't good enough and what their own channel. They've since started moving games there that used to be shown by broadcast networks which pissed a lot of football fans off. They are one of the ones wanting to charge outrageous fees for their channel, yet insist it be on basic cable. Comcast agreed to carry the NFL Network but insisted it be on a premium sports tier, which would mean less money for the NFL (but would also mean that subscribers who didn't want it wouldn't have to pay for it). The NFL threw a hissy fit over that. Haven't heard anything about that in awhile but Comcast was sticking to their guns on it.

        • by GIL_Dude ( 850471 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:09PM (#28313321) Homepage
          I am a Comcast subscriber affected by the NFL network thing and although I missed a couple of games that I expected to be able to watch - I think they are doing the right thing by refusing to stick special interest stuff like NFL Network on basic cable and make people who don't want to watch it pay for it. Would I have liked to see those couple of games that I thought I could watch? Sure. The NFL shouldn't have tried to move them to a crazy new network like that. Should Comcast stick to their guns on this? Absolutely. It's one of the few things that I think they've ever done right.

          For the actual issue being discussed here about the ESPN programming - this is indeed the same as the NFL Network deal. I'd prefer to see this ESPN offering die than have my ISP pay extra (and up my bill proportionately). Either make it free to ISPs like content should be, and, if needed, allow individual subscribers to sign up and pay for the content or make it all free and ad supported. Their choice. But none of this back door forcing the ISP to subscribe on my behalf.
    • by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:42PM (#28312853) Journal

      (Whatever happened to all those proposals for 'ala carte' cable?)

      There are a number of objections the cablecos raise against a la carte. In the old days, they'd cry that it wasn't technologically feasible to offer individual channels to each household. That was sort of true; analog filters could block out groups of channels, but if they had rearranged channels logically and used the filters to filter out these groups, they probably could have gotten close to a la carte.

      Nowadays, the technology issue is moot. Many, many people have digital boxes, making a la carte extremely simple. All modern cablecos are also in the process of switching their analog customers to digital boxes anyway. Many won't even sell you new analog service. However, the cablecos will say that large channels subsidize the smaller ones (of course that's true), and that if they did a la carte, smaller channels couldn't survive. E.g., fewer people would be paying for BET or whatever, so BET would die out. I don't think anyone actually knows how the numbers would turn out, but there is a lot of crap on cable that people would probably be interested in NOT paying for... however, what I think is crap might be interesting to some people (e.g., sports).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nine-times ( 778537 )

        However, the cablecos will say that large channels subsidize the smaller ones (of course that's true), and that if they did a la carte, smaller channels couldn't survive. E.g., fewer people would be paying for BET or whatever, so BET would die out.

        And what's the real reason they don't want to do a la carte? I doubt it's to save BET. I mean, if the bigger channels subsidize the smaller ones, then presumably they carry BET at a loss. (I mean, that's the logic, right?) So then why don't the cable providers want to drop BET, stop taking a loss, and make a bigger profit on carrying only the popular channels?

  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:33PM (#28312701) Homepage
    Could using proxies like Tor assist getting around blocks based on your ISP?
    • by orngjce223 ( 1505655 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:36PM (#28312755)

      If the exit node is in one of those willingly-paying-through-the-nose ISPs, probably. (Q: Does Tor let you pick where your exit node is?)

      The problem is that the (in this case, not grandmas, but) Grandpas who were sent a link to the site by the grandchildren can't see what they're supposed to be seeing, and, simultaneously, people who don't *want* to access the content (like me and mine) are forced to pay for it anyway.

    • In theory, the company has caching servers at your ISP, so that there is not a huge bottleneck. (or a decent multicasting server). However, this is the same crap that ESPN does for cable TV too.. Whether you watch sports or not, by far, the biggest chunk of your cable bill is for ESPN.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The tor network is not suited for broadband data transfer (it's slow as hell).

      An option would be to get one of the middle east proxy service accounts that also have exit points in the US and UK. You can pretty much forget about the free proxies though.
  • by Rycross ( 836649 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:34PM (#28312721)

    These companies seem to be stuck in the TV mindset, and view web sites sort-of like internet channels. Web site owners like ESPN want to be able to sell their "channels" to cable companies, and cable companies want to charge their users extra for "premium content." They're trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. My worry is that they'll manage to do it, via monopoly pressure or government legislation, and end up making my internet service about as convenient as my television service (that is, not at all).

    I really wish companies would learn to adapt instead of trying to shoehorn everything into their existing business models. Why do we pay CEOs these ridiculous salaries again? It sure isn't because they're visionaries.

    • by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:38PM (#28312783) Homepage Journal

      "Why do we pay CEOs these ridiculous salaries again? It sure isn't because they're visionaries."

      It's because they are all power hungry sociopaths that are charismatic & good at extracting money from us.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Like anybody on Slashdot watches ESPN

      • I did, but now I don't have cable anymore. In fact, if ESPN360.com was available for me to subscribe to, I probably would! I love college football, but moved 2000 miles from my favorite team. (GO DUCKS!) No stations around here carry Pac 10 games, only Big 10. I would gladly pay them some money, to be able to watch their games live online! It would still be far cheaper than having cable TV!
    • by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:43PM (#28313841) Journal

      These companies seem to be stuck in the TV mindset, and view web sites sort-of like internet channels.

      That is probably because TV makes money for them, and free Internet web sites do not make any money for video content producers right now.

      I really wish companies would learn to adapt instead of trying to shoehorn everything into their existing business models

      Losing money is not really a great business model...

  • by Artifex ( 18308 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:35PM (#28312731) Journal

    Do they then become more responsible for what it is they are allowing through?

    Compare it to cable companies, where some individual cable channel broadcasters get paid by the cable companies for their content, and the cable companies then have some responsibility over what gets presented.

  • by arizwebfoot ( 1228544 ) * on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:35PM (#28312733)
    Isn't Disney a mickey mouse outfit anyway?
  • Someone needs to hit Disney hard where it hurts!! How's that Mickey Mouse copyright doing???
  • by Fantom42 ( 174630 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:40PM (#28312807)

    Obviously. There is really no distinction between charging an ISP for service and forming a partnership with them to provide content. Both are just an agreement between two parties.

    This is just another reason why CONTENT providers should be prohibited from making any kind of business deals with SERVICE providers. This is a perfectly reasonable anti-trust regulation and one that I've even seen written up in the editorial section of the WSJ, of all places.

    This was before net neutrality was such a hot-button issue, and the article made the point that deregulation would have been much more effective if it had been done in a way to encourage competition instead of prevent it; by preventing this partnership, competition between providers would be enabled. This makes sense even without considering there higher-minded principles behind net neutrality.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by yenne ( 1366903 )

      This is just another reason why CONTENT providers should be prohibited from making any kind of business deals with SERVICE providers.

      While I agree in principle, I'm not completely opposed to an Internet subscription model where I get to choose between Package A (basic Internet with no frills) and Package B (basic plus ESPN.com). If I don't want that crap then I don't have to pay for it.

      Seriously, who's to say that it wouldn't be a reasonable business move for AT&T to offer Internet Plus that comes with built-in subscriptions to Wall Street Journal, New York Times, ESPN, etc., for a fraction of the cost of subscribing to each individ

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 )

      Yeah, I've long been a proponent of the idea of breaking up the vertical monopolies that are causing a lot of these problems. However, I think the key thing to break up is that the infrastructure providers should be prohibited from being service providers or content providers.

      So, for example, if Verizon is laying the fiber and hooking up the routers to provide the internet, then they should be forbidden from being an ISP or providing voice service or acting as a "cable company" (providing video services).

  • If a web site want's to be subscriber based, that's fine.
    If your customers are ISP's, then it's no different then any subscriber based site; However, when this is done outside of a specific site, then we ahve some serious issues.

    Hmmm. OTOH the more I think about it, the less I like it.
    Must ponder more.

  • When you visit the site, you get a message blaming your ISP for not being able to use the site. I assume this is done so that you will call your ISP to complain.
    ISPs could then block the site completely to prevent their users from seeing this message. Then no one will ask for that content. ISP doesn't have to pay, and customers aren't unhappy because they don't know what they are missing.
    Yes, I understand that ISPs blocking sites is a VERY bad idea and a slippery slope, but if the site can block a user
  • by volxdragon ( 1297215 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:41PM (#28312847)

    Guess they want some feedback on this topic:

    http://espn.go.com/broadband/espn360/feedback [go.com]

  • by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:42PM (#28312863) Homepage

    No access to Disney content resulting in lower ISP charges? Win-Win! How do I sign up?

  • Now isn't ESPN360 the actual channel that just happens to also have a website? espn.com is not being blocked, content that hasn't been paid for is, as well as they can do without plugging into ISP's databases and figuring out if you've paid to watch the ESPN360 channel.

    I subscribe to a magazine that keeps it's archives online but available only to subscribers. I don't see how this is any different.
  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:44PM (#28312911) Homepage Journal
    I have relatives that worship Disney. They go to Disneyland 4-5 times a year, buy up every DVD they put out, and one of them even has their bathroom painted to look like a Dalmatian, with little Dalmatian statues scattered about everywhere. It's scary. That being said I hope this blows up in their face. I hope that people realize that the good wholesome fantasy world Walt set out to create is dead, and what's left is just a giant faceless corporation with their tentacles raping our society like a scene out of a Urotsukidji manga. It would be nice to see a boycott over this.
    • I hate the disney cult... (Score:2)
      by t0qer (230538)

      I misread your nick as t0ger, which I assumed was a "leet" form of Tigger.

      And I got very confused.

      But then I realized you probably call hats silly names like "toque" because you're Canadian, and all came clear to me.

      OTOH, I really don't think Disney is tentacle-raping our society. I just thing they are very effective at industrializing the distillation of cash from fools.

  • Lousy place to ask, but do any of yous go to their site? Last time I did was three years ago to watch World Cup.
  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:48PM (#28312967) Homepage
    The problem at the bottom of all this is the existence of local broadband monopolies. If local broadband markets weren't monopolies, there'd be no problem. Disney could try to extort money from ISP #1, in order to force all of 1's customers to pay an ESPN tax, regardless of whether they wanted to view ESPN via the internet or not. If there was a second ISP, then ISP #2 could position itself as the no-frills ISP in the area, not offering ESPN, and people like me who aren't interested in ESPN would go with ISP #2. In this competitive economic environment, Disney's business plan wouldn't work. All they'd accomplish would be to create a class of users, the customers of ISP #2, who wouldn't even have the option of paying to view ESPN if they wanted to. Disney would recognize that, and wouldn't try this business plan in the first place.
  • Here's what I see (Score:3, Informative)

    by twistedcubic ( 577194 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:48PM (#28312973)
    as an Earthlink subscriber through Time Warner in Los Angeles. http://imagebin.ca/view/Zt9dp58.html [imagebin.ca]
  • by WCMI92 ( 592436 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:49PM (#28312985) Homepage

    ESPN loves to milk tons of money out of cable systems, and in fact, their channels are amongst the most expensive for cable providers, mostly because Disney insists that they be on the "basic" tier. Funny thing is the more ESPN channels they add the worse their programming seems to get, and my days of making sure I didn't miss SportsCenter are LONG gone thanks to the Internet, but I digress.

    So, I'm not surprised that they are trying the same thing with ISP's. I don't think this is going to work out that well though. Getting to see broadcasts of games online won't be more than a niche until much faster broadband is available and wireless broadband is more ubiquitous. ESPN was one of the first to start charging for web content in the first place, which is where I'd think it'd be appropriate to sell subscriptions to their video service, but it seems to me that they want to force the ISP's to pay, hence forcing every SUBSCRIBER of that ISP to pay for it as it will be passed on, thus netting them cash from people who don't want their video service and won't use it.

    Given how they've been larding up their website with screaming video ads that start playing immediately I've been going to it less and less. They really are living on past reputation only as their content has really gone down hill the past couple years. I certainly don't want my ISP to pay and pass the charges on to me.

  • Simple solution: Boycott their content completely. Do not need DO NOT WANT.
  • I can imagine several ways to work around this "issue" through IP packet forwarding and other related methods to get around this sort of blocking and fee schedule. I would imagine that to do this would result in legal actions of various sorts and regulating how you can access stuff like this through "terms of service" agreements that are draconian.

    The big issue here... and hit squarely on with the original /. posting here... is that this is a business model for getting somebody to pay for content. They ar

  • I am making a wild guess that this service is one fanned-out locally by an ISP instead of fed individually to all users from a central source. (NBC did something like that for the olympics.) ESPN is offering this as a service to ISP's who would like to provide these live feeds to their customers. I see no difference between this and an e-mail provider offering to provide e-mail services to a particular ISP. This looks no different than any other subscription service, only in this case the subscribers ar

  • by steve buttgereit ( 644315 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:00PM (#28313171) Homepage

    If the ISPs feel it isn't a good investment or feel that it's unfair: they shouldn't pay for it. If they do think it provides enough value: they should if Disney asks them to.

    Yes they will pass those costs on, but they can only put their prices up so high before they lose value to their customers and they walk. And yes even cable providers and ISPs have a threshold to their value beyond which the price ain't worth it.

    If enough of their customers want Disney, they'll continue, if not they'll buck the deal.

    Think about it: if Disney and other majors cost the ISPs too much, the ISPs may well tier their services for consumers; if consumers feel the extra price to access Disney is worth it more power to Disney and the ISP. The extra value will be worth it... I suspect on the Internet people would find other content (maybe even non-Disney content, shudder) rather than pay a premium. If ISPs don't offer enough service for price, people won't buy the service.

    Going to the FCC or trying to steal the content isn't going to solve anything and ultimately punishes those that create the value.

  • by sunking2 ( 521698 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:10PM (#28313329)
    Once upon a time, when I was your age, we were able to go anywhere on the internet that we wanted. Then the websites realized they couldn't make any money that way and started packaging themselves together and selling access rights to ISPs just like cable tv does. And guess what? The websites made money, and people payed more money to the ISPs for access, and all the corporations rejoiced. Thus died the golden age of the internet which we now just call 'interactive cable'
  • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:11PM (#28313339)

    The excuses they use in opposition to Net Neutrality have viable compromises/work-arounds. It seems like they can still be evil to the consumer in a Net Neutral World. It's just harder to but a barrier to competition, so that consumer would have alternatives. The only reason I can see is that they are trying to be anti-competitive which is, well.. monopolistic/evil/illegal.

    Suppose Net Neutrality were there accepted rule:

    Would it be in violation for a website to offer a faster experience to premium users? I don't think so. I think it's okay for a site to throttle their out-going traffic. This has nothing to do with shaping traffic en-route.

    Would it then be in violation of Net Neutrality to run a promotion with Comcast, say: "Sign up now and get a life time pass to the ESPN Express Lane (TM)". I don't think so. They are not restricting access by messing with the Tubes.

    I think the real reason they wouldn't do something like this is because it wouldn't stop a newcomer for providing a better experience for free. It's clearly an intent to squeeze out the competition and limit choice for consumers.

  • by plankrwf ( 929870 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:12PM (#28313365)

    The site in question seems to work fine from Europe. That was actually my guess beforehand: indeed, how could Disney make deals with all the ISP from overseas...
    So it seems that Disney has chosen to only close it to 'some US citizins', ie those of certain ISP's.
    (Those which are not one of their choosing).

    Guess Disney should be glad to be in the States, and not somewhere in Europe where our Dutch Neelie could get at them ;-0
    (See e.g. http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/31/1328249 [slashdot.org] ).

  • by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <greg@gksnetworks.com> on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:17PM (#28313427) Homepage

    fsck you. And when their customers complain about their limited access, tell them to take it up with the broken website they are trying to visit.

  • not net neutrality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by convolvatron ( 176505 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:26PM (#28313599)

    its very different for a service to filter connections than a backbone. the real threat to end-to-end and neutrality
    would be if transit providers start charging for traffic involving certain endpoints (which is how this discussion
    got started)

    endpoints can make whatever restrictions they like, even if they are as idiotic as trying to get access providers
    to handle their sales and billing.

    of course it would suck if i couldn't get internet access without also paying for some 'content plan', but thats a
    different issue entirely

  • I'm confused (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slapout ( 93640 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:28PM (#28313619)

    Ok, let me see if I understand this:

    Disney's against Net Neutrality while Slashdotters like Net Neutrality.
    But Disney = Pixar, which Slashdotter's like.
    And Pixar = Steve Jobs.
    Some Slashdotters don't like Steve Jobs.
    But Steve Jobs = Apple.
    Slashdotters like Apple.

    Oh man, I'm confused.

  • Oblig. Quote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dragonshed ( 206590 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @06:00PM (#28314797)

    There is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no snare like folly, there is no torrent like greed.

  • The Other Boot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @06:22PM (#28314963) Homepage

    So, is this a real threat to net neutrality (and the end-to-end principle) or just another bad business model that doesn't stand a chance?

    This is the other boot dropping.

    1. ISPs try to charge media companies for discriminatory access to their customers.
    2. Media companies try to charge ISPs for content.
    3. Big ISPs and big media discover that they can scratch each others' backs and put the cost on the independents.

    We're on the first part of step 2. Step 3 is absolutely inevitable if we do not pass net neutrality. The Internet will become as inaccessible to individuals and small business as television, radio, and print.

    "Freedom of the press belongs to those who have one." The big ISPs and big media will eventually realize that is a value proposition if they can buy enough power from the DC corrupt.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!