How does Court ruling on “Net Neutrality” relate to the WWE Network and UFC Fight Pass?

January 14, 2014

A District of Columbia Circuit Court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could not prohibit internet providers from blocking or discriminating against traffic to lawful websites.   The ruling which impacts “Open Internet” (aka net neutrality) may mean issues for the UFC Fight Pass and WWE Network in the future.

In Verizon v. Federal Communications Commission, the Court held that the FCC is not able to impose “anti-discrimination” and “anti-blocking” rules on Internet providers.  The Court ruled that, “…even though the Commission has general authority to regulate…it may not impose a requirement that contravenes express statutory mandates.  Given that the [Federal Communications] Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such.”

CNET breaks down the ruling:

In plain English, the court rejected Verizon’s argument that the FCC had overstepped its authority to regulate broadband access, instead acknowledging that the FCC has general authority to impose regulations on broadband and wireless service providers. But because the services these providers offer are classified differently from traditional telecommunication services, the justices reasoned in their decision that they are not subject to the same statutes, which guide the agency in forming its regulatory policies.

The general theory of “Net Neutrality” regulation is to keep a public right of way to access certain services.  As stated in the CNET article, for the internet, it means that the infrastructure used to deliver web pages, video and audio-streaming services is open to anyone accessing or delivering the content.  It would thus be illegal for an ISP to block a competitor’s internet traffic simply because they are competitors.  With the Court ruling, it would seem to imply that blocking competitors may be an option.

If you are a proponent of “net neutrality” what may happen as a result was recognized by the Court in its opinion:

“…broadband providers might prevent their end-user subscribers from accessing certain edge providers (those providing content (i.e. UFC and WWE)) altogether, or might degrade the quality of their end-user subscribers’ access to certain edge providers, either as a means of favoring their own competing content or services or to enable them to collect fees from certain edge providers.”

There was no immediate word whether there would be an appeal of this decision.

Payout Perspective:

So what does this mean from a combat sports perspective?  With the UFC Fight Pass and WWE Network relying heavily and essentially depending on internet streaming services in order for its services to be viable, we could see internet providers being able to regulate the bandwidth and streaming of these services.  ISP providers may affect UFC and WWE subscribers as identified in the Court opinion.  The UFC and WWE might have to “play ball” with these ISP providers in order to obtain the best access to the end-user.

With the ruling occurring today, it’s still too early to know what may happen but MMA Payout will keep you posted.

4 Responses to “How does Court ruling on “Net Neutrality” relate to the WWE Network and UFC Fight Pass?”

  1. Random Dude on January 14th, 2014 10:18 PM

    The United States has probably the worst broadband service in any first-world nation and also some of the most expensive. If net-neutrality is eventually fully defeated, combined with the data caps almost every provider has, it could be a real big problem for Netflix and other streaming services. The good thing is there are a lot of big players on the side of net-neutrality to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  2. BrainSmasher on January 14th, 2014 11:17 PM

    So basically the UFC and WWE cut out Direct TV only to cut in the internet providers?

    IS this basically what AT&T has done? My brother has unlimited data on his phone. ATT switched to no longer offer unlimited. But those who had it could keep it. But what they did was slow your Data speed down to a crawl. trying to force you to give up the unlimited.

  3. Logical on January 15th, 2014 1:07 AM

    Basically what the ISP’s are trying to do is make sure that the sites that use most of their bandwidth end up paying a premium to get preference in traffic. It is a way for the ISP’s to circumvent their transition into data caps, basically this is going to work like this:

    Evil ISP with Data Cap: Hey YOUTUBE whats up? listen… you are wasting all my bandwidth bro and i am going to block your ass unless you show me the money ya understand? But i am not that evil ya see, if you pay a premium i will ensure that you get preference in traffic and i might block the shit out of one of your competitors if you know what i am saying.

    For the consumer this is going to mean that your Data caps will NOT be used while visiting youtube, but they’ll be used up while visiting any site that decides not to pay up and it will also be slow as hell as the ISP’s will make sure of that.

    Net Neutrality is all about the openness of the internet, it will be a real shame if this goes through as it would mean that depending on your ISP everyone will have a much different internet experience… maybe they’ll even charge for special packages on top of what you already pay for services so definitely everyone will be affected.

  4. Jason Cruz on January 15th, 2014 7:31 AM

    @BS This is a little different than the DTV situation.

    AT&T has a “sponsored” program which was thought to be an end around net neutrality.

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